2013-03-28 / Top News

Rooster of bread is only one Easter variation

By Angie Ibarra

Roosters shaped from bread are a tradition in Holland. Roosters shaped from bread are a tradition in Holland. (Editor’s note: Angie Reinbold Ibarra of Strasburg is a new columnist for the Emmons County Record. Please join us in welcoming her.)

The word Easter was borrowed from the Teutonic festival of the Spring sun, Eastre.

This was the season of new birth, an awakening in nature when all the earth sprang to new life, the death of winter and the birth of spring.

The time of Christ’s Resurrection coincided with the renewal of new life in nature. Thus Easter is a spiritual renewal for people following the Christian tradition, with its promise to mankind of new life through the risen Lord. It has its counterpart in the spring season for those following an environmental tradition, because of its rebirth in nature, with green growing plants and flowers.

Many traditions stem from this rebirth, such as wearing new Easter clothes and spring cleaning. Foods appropriate at Easter time symbolize this new beginning such as eggs which are at an embryonic stage. The bright Easter egg colors are symbolic of spring flowers. Dyeing Easter eggs has been a custom for hundreds of years.

In the year 325 A.D. during the reign of the Emperor Constantine, the council and the astronomers decreed that Easter should fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the 21st day of March. Thus, the hare which is the larger version of the rabbit is, according to Egyptian mythology, a symbol of the moon. For hundreds of years in certain sections of England hare hunts have been held on Easter and the hare representing the moon has become associated with Easter in America.

There are many variations of Eastertide celebrations in other countries, and they all have to do with rebirth or renewal. I have a friend who grew up in Zwolle,the northeastern part of Holland. She said her mother would go to the bakery to buy a rooster made from bread a week before Palm Sunday. This bread rooster was put on a wooden stick about two feet long and decorated with strings of nuts, green branches, colored paper, etc. On Saturday afternoons preceding Palm Sunday all the children would gather at the market place forming a parade and marching through the city. Prizes were awarded for the best-decorated rooster. This custom started in the 17th century when children would walk from house to house with their decorated rooster, singing “one egg is no egg, two eggs, a half egg, three eggs is an Easter egg.” On Palm Sunday there would be an Easter egg-eating contest. Chocolate chickens are sold in stores in Holland, but the Easter bunny is not very popular.

In some villages in Holland, on the Saturday before Easter young people go from door to door collecting wood, paper, etc. The collected material is put together in a cone shape. On Easter Sunday when it gets dark people gather together and a fire is started. Because Easter is also the start of the spring season, one explanation for the Easter fire is that the smoke of the fire and the wood ashes, benefit the soil producing a better crop.

Here is a recipe for a favorite Easter brunch egg dish by Elisabeth Boxman, formerly from Holland.

Easter Brunch

1 9-inch pie shell, unbaked
6 strips crisp bacon, crumbled 2 medium onions sliced
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 tablespoons flour
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups Edam or Gouda
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Cook onion slices in butter in large skillet over low heat until limp. Stir in flour. Remove from heat. Beat eggs, milk, and seasoning together. Fold in onions, crumbled bacon, and shredded cheese. Pour into prepared pie shell. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325° and bake 20-25 minutes until center is firm. Cut in wedges. Serves 6.

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