Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Meaning of Easter

My four siblings and I weren't raised in any religious tradition. We celebrated the major Christian holidays, but always in the most secular sense. As a kid, Easter morning meant waking up and searching the house til we each found a basket stocked with all of the standard booty: big chocolate bunny, check, peeps, check (and, yuck), jelly beans, check, and of course the hard boiled eggs we had dyed together with my mother and the help of the folks at Cray-Pas.

When my oldest son, who is seven, celebrated his first Easter, I filled his basket with soft toys rather than candy. Later, I decided his lips would never touch that lowbrow chocolate garbage from the drugstore, and got his bunny from Jacques Torres. Now, with three kids, and the realization that they are all perfectly happy with Russell Stover chocolate and some standard issue jelly beans, their baskets contain just those things, plus the same dyed hard boiled eggs I always got too. Hence, I've found myself coming full circle to the Easter I knew as a child. But the details have changed. As a family we still color eggs together, but I no longer buy the packaged kits for that. I want to tell you that we dye our eggs in baths of beet juice, coffee, red cabbage and tumeric, but I'd be lying. (Maybe next year.) We do use what we already have in the cupboard though; a few drops of food coloring (which we also use to color home made play doh) in bowls of vinegar and water. We also like to decoupage eggs with tissue paper and glue, and finish those off with some glitter. I love these eggs because we can keep them year round, where they hang from thread above the kitchen window, and sparkle in the sunlight. (I should mention that I blow the yolks out of the eggs before we decoupage them. Otherwise, gross.) I've also done away with the plastic grass that lined my childhood Easter basket. Instead I gather up some green construction and tissue papers from the kids' craft cupboard, and put it through the paper shredder. Its got a much nicer feel to it, and we can reuse it, or compost it, which somehow seems appropriate to the holiday. Finally, I've put the jelly beans into small, cloth drawstring pouches that I made, to avoid that annoying problem of having to dig through the basket grass to find them.

Also new this year was the fact that I went to church. The kids were with their dad, so I had the luxury of being able to actually listen to the pastor. The sermon, which included the notion of new life growing out of dark and previously unseen places, unexpectedly brought me to tears. I went to a Unitarian service, because that church's principles and values seem to be most in line with my own today.

Whatever Easter means to you and your family, I hope the day brought with it some sense of the possibility of renewal, and reminded you, as it did me, that spring has finally come.

To make the Easter eggs shown below we used:
Boiled eggs wrapped in rubber bands
Dye baths made with one cup hot water, 10-15 drops of food coloring (use more or less depending on the intensity of hue desired)
1 tablespoon of vinegar.

Soak eggs in bath for 2-5 minutes each, depending on the intensity of hue desired.
Remove, pat eggs dry, and reposition elastic bands, if desired, between colors.

For the decoupage eggs shown below we used:
Blown white eggs
Mod Podge or Craft glue slightly thinned with water in a bowl
Small craft paint or sponge brushes
Colored tissue paper (preferable non-bleed, but any kind will work)
Glitter (if desired)
Newspaper to cover the table

Holding an egg above a bowl, use a thumbtack or small nail to gently puncture a hole into the top and then bottom of the egg. Wiggle the tack or nail around slowly and gently to open the hole up to a large enough diameter (less than an eighth of an inch) so that the yolk can pass through the hole when blown. Place your mouth over the top hole and form a seal around the egg with your lips, then begin blowing the yolk out through the bottom hole and into the bowl below. If the yolk gets stuck the holes may need to be made slightly larger.

Rinse and dry the eggs and place them back into the carton.

Cover your work surface with newspaper.

Gather several colors of tissue paper and tear them into very small pieces, no more than an inch or two in length and width.

Brush a thin layer of mod podge or glue over a small portion of the egg. Take a piece of tissue paper and lay it over the glue, using the brush to smooth it into place. Repeat until the egg is covered and no white spots from the shell remain. Cover the entire egg with another thin layer of glue to give the egg a shiny uniform surface. Gently place egg back into carton to dry.

To make the cloth pouches for the jellybeans shown below I used this tutorial from Cindy over at Skip to My Lou.

The song that put me into the Easter spirit today:
Jeff Buckley's cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".


  1. Hello dear Leslie! I love your new blog. We did dye eggs with beets, turmeric and stuff like that this year - but all we did was make brown eggs browner. I will concede that dyeing brown eggs was perhaps my first mistake, but still. I'll be so happy to read more ...
    love to all. xox Charlotte