Friday 2 April 2010

Of eggs and bunnies...

Being in Japan, I often get friends asking me about traditions from home and how they started and usually I am completely clueless, but I do have a handy book to help me out and strangely enough, it is a cook book! The Farmhouse Cookery Book is so much more than just a cook book. Each recipe has a little section dedicated to the history of the recipe and then there are also sections on festivals and traditions.
According to this book, the crosses on hot cross buns used to be on all bread in the medieval times, it was believed that the cross would ward off bad spirits and help the bread rise. During the 17th century the tradition was dropped except for on Good Friday where it became a symbol of the cross.
As for Easter, many of the traditions pre date Christianity. The name Easter comes from Eostre the Saxon goddess of Spring whose feast day was the spring equinox, eggs were sacred to her as they symbolise re-birth and from this we get the Easter egg. In parts of the UK there is a tradition to roll hard boiled, dyed eggs down a hill, I have vague memories of doing this one time but I can't place where or how old I was. On the other hand, I had never done an Easter egg hunt until I came to Japan! And the Easter bunny... well she is descended from the hare that the devotees of Eostre regarded as as representing fertility and the spring regeneration of life. Not from the book, but I remember reading somewhere that the Eater bunny with the basket delivering sweets was started in Germany, but don't quote me on that!

Easter for me growing up would mean going to Church in the morning then getting an Easter egg when we got home, a big hollow egg with more sweets inside. Yum, and I don't know why but Easter egg chocolate tastes different somehow :o)

Now, I make an egg for Ebi-kun which he hunts for in the morning, he has to follow a pile of clues to get to the egg then we head to the park to meet up with the playgroup and have a big egg hunt and picnic, lots of fun. What do you do for Easter? Do you have any special traditions?

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