Easter : The Church, the Egg and the Bunny
The end of Lent is crowned with the exuberant and life-affirming feast that is Easter!
According to Bede, the monastic historian, the English word Easter derives from the Anglo-Saxon name for the month of April, after Eostre, the goddess of fertility and renewal.
It was known as ‘Eostremonath’ (the month of openings) and the Pagan rituals related to the goddess Eostre are symbolised by the egg and the hare (or Easter bunny)
It should, however, be remembered that Christians celebrated the resurrection of Christ long before the word ‘Easter’ was coined. The word they used for the celebration was ‘Pascha’, which is derived from, and linked to, the Jewish festival of Passover. Since ‘Pascha’ was most often celebrated in ‘Eostremonath’, Christians began calling it ‘Easter’
On Good Friday, when the meat starved parishioners were released from Easter services they would descend upon the Butchers, Dairy-men and Bakers to gather their feast. Communal ovens would have been lit, pre-dawn, to be ready for the prepared pies and roasts, trussed pigeon and newly skinned rabbit.
The cold sterility of winter was passed for another year! The tightened belts, following forty days of bread and fish, (shame about the thick cut tomato : nice cod dish though) could be loosened to accommodate the long-awaited feast. Spring greens and tender herbs would add an aromatic fragrance to the festivities.
And sweet, luscious fruit laden puddings would swiftly help to banish the almost instantly forgotten hardships and hunger!
It was a time of feasting and celebration to welcome in a bright new Spring and a fertile growing season.
I appreciate that, for the cooks amongst you, the frozen peas and carrots may be an anathema but the images encapsulate the zeit-geist of the sixties and are therefore permissable in their own right.