For many the "Easter" holidays are about chocolate, bunnies, religion and spring. Most have no idea of the origins of the name Easter, the symbols (eggs, bunnies, chicks etc) or the pre-Christianity traditions. For us, researching the origins of holidays has become a bit of a tradition in itself. My son's quest for knowledge has taught us so much. Easter's Pagan origin is recognised by most religions although not widely broadcast.
For us, we have come to learn of this season as the celebration of the
For anyone wanting to learn more, I found a great site combining all the explanations of many others, and while long, is a great read. Easter History and Traditions is very informative, not judgemental towards any faith and covers more than most sites which tend to be either pro pagan or pro religion (neither of which is helpful as you don't want bias when looking for information).
One of the things that has been a tradition for me for as long as I can remember, is the cooking of particular foods on these days. Fish and Seafood. Vegetarian dishes. Eggs, real ones not chocolate ones. It was always a highlight for us. So despite my difference in beliefs over this period (Pagan Roots of Easter) from the majority who celebrate the Christian version of the holiday, I wanted to share the foods that even my son now sees as tradition in our house.
Symbols of Ostara and the Spring Equinox are eggs, rabbits, chicks, flowers and seeds. These symbols became the modern "Easter Bunny" and Easter Eggs (see above link at Easter History and Traditions). Many do not realise that these things symbolising fertility, new life and springtime are of pagan origin. So many don't realise why at Easter time, it was traditional to eat eggs (real ones) in cooking. Eggs were always on the menu for us at this time of year. Boiled eggs with runny, bright yellow/gold yolks, with toast (cut into strips for dipping into the yolk and called Soldiers when we were children) were always a favourite and are still my favourite thing to have Easter morning. Other mornings were scrambled eggs and omelettes. But the tradition of boiled eggs is my childhood memory that I've passed on and we look forward to choosing which cute egg cups to use.
It was also traditional to eat the last of the cured meats that they had stored for use over the winter. This time of year was also seen as a time to cut out some of the heavier foods eaten over winter and was a pre Christian version of the Lenten period. So lighter meals were eaten at this time, with lots of spring vegetables, eggs, lighter meats like chicken and fish, plenty of seeds etc.
A favourite brunch recipe I have is for : Cheese and Potato Fritters. I make many variations but the classic basic recipe is my son's favourite. Now I say "Brunch" only because it's a holiday and we like to sleep in on those days. So by the time we are up and about, breakfast has been and gone and it's Brunch. I also have no set measurements for this recipe as it's something you learn from watching others make it time and time again. Yes I am one of those who cooks with a recipe only as a rough guide and often with no recipe at all, one of those who doesn't measure, gauges things by eye and learnt from an amazing cook who never measured and cooked from the heart not from a book.
Cheese & Potato Fritters
- Peel and then grate 3 large potatoes into a mixing bowl.
- Grate cheese to the same approx quantity and add to the mixing bowl.
- Add in some rock salt and grind some black pepper (if you wish).
- Next, add two eggs and a few heaped tablespoons of plain flour to the mix. This is the 'wing it' part. You may need more egg. You want to bind the mixture but with more of a sloppy consistency. You don't want it to be dough like. You also don't want too much egg and it be like runny pancake mixture.
- You scoop a large tablespoon worth of mixture into a fry pan and have it sizzle when cooking (no sizzle and the pan is not hot enough). Then flip it to cook the other side. They are done when golden on each side (cheese has melted and potato cooked).
- They are basic and easy once you've worked out your consistency.
- Variations: you can add any or all of the following - corn kernels, grated carrot, grated zucchini, diced onion, diced capsicum, diced mushrooms, sliced shallots, etc. However whatever vegetable mix you add, needs an equal amount of grated cheese and more egg & flour.
*** A cute Easter tip *** If you have some round metal egg rings, and you are fine with them no longer being round, either use a hammer or something with a little force, and you can squish them at one end and turn your round egg rings into 'Egg Shaped' egg rings.
These are PERFECT for cooking the fritters in, for making egg shaped pancakes, egg shaped toast, egg shaped cookies etc.
The Menu Plan for our 4 day holiday goes something like this:
- Cheese & Potato Fritters
- Seafood Pasta
- Fish & Rice dish with cream sauce
- Quiche & Salad
- Roast Chicken and Vegetables
- Boiled Eggs and Toast (Soldiers/Strips of toast)
- Herbed Scrambled Egg
- Chicken & Sweetcorn Pies
- Cooked Ham/bacon/cured meats
- Hot Cross Buns
- Spinach, Cheese & Bacon Pies
Celebrating Easter when you are not a Christian means you just don't recognise the aspects relating to Christianity. However all the fun parts of the season are actually of pagan origin so you still get to take part and recognise all the good things. Without the non Christians throughout many cultures in history, you wouldn't have Easter eggs, or the Easter Bunny. You wouldn't call it Easter either.
We love Easter in this house and for us there is another reason that it is special. The day my son was born, was Easter Sunday (in that year). If ever there was a coming together of symbols of the season: fertility, new life, new season of life ... then it was that day for us. I often tell him he was the biggest Easter Egg I ever got and the most painful LOL All 3.997 kilograms (8 pounds 13 ounces) of him! He considers Easter his 'second' birthday. The photo below is my boy at 1 year old in his Bunny onesie.
My son is not a crafty child so we don't do a lot of craft like most people do this time of year. However we decorate the house, have Easter baskets (make new ones or update the old one), have Easter Egg hunts, make our own Easter eggs, watch Easter Bunny type movies and generally enjoy relaxing during this time.
We always leave out a carrot on a special bunny plate for the Easter Bunny. The Easter Bunny always leaves a little bit of mess behind too. Usually there is a trail of little eggs through the house with fluff from the Easter Bunny.
We also like to make Easter treats. One thing that is a favourite to make are our own chocolates . We also like to make marshmallows, rice crispy treats and rocky road.
So we are looking forward to the Easter holidays this year. Lots of cooking, lots of fun, lots of family time. Despite being in the Southern Hemisphere where we are embracing Autumn not Spring, it's still a lovely time of year LOL.
From my family to yours, have a happy Easter and Spring Equinox.