Spring Holidays 2011
Spring Holidays Bring Families Together
Connie Goldin ©2011, Mom to Madre
This April, Easter and Passover coincide: Easter is on Sunday, April 24 and Passover begins on sundown, April 18 through April 26. Christians celebrate Easter in remembrance of Christ’s resurrection. Jews celebrate Passover to remember their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Christ’s “Last Supper” may have been a Passover seder (meal). Christians and Jews share so many important events, stories, and traditions. Many American families joyfully celebrate Easter as a sign of spring’s renewal of life. Whatever your family’s religion or tradition, spring brings new flowers, baby animals, singing birds, warmth and a feeling of a new beginning- things we all enjoy.
When I was a child, my mom would get all four of us kids decked out in a new outfit and new shoes for Easter Sunday. This was always fun and I loved the shopping. My family was not religious, but we went to church on Easter Sunday looking snazzy. My parents would hide eggs we had dyed the day before in a messy event involving dissolving tablets, hot water, vinegar and little wire loops that came in the dye packages. These were used to lift the hard boiled eggs from the cups, Mom’s tea cups, holding the colors. There were always eggs that turned a murky brown but they mostly looked great-even the ones that semi-exploded in the boiling process and had cooked egg white poking out.
The big excitement of the day, after the pre-dawn egg hunt in our back yard, was breakfast. To this day, Mom is famous for fabulous breakfasts at Easter and Christmas. The highlight was always the candy-filled Easter baskets that were at each of our plates. For a couple of years, they even had Double Bubble gum on the bottom of the baskets. I have been a life-long fan of chocolate marshmallow eggs, malted milk Easter eggs, jelly beans, and those little squishy bunnies and chicks called “Peeps.”
My Jewish husband, David, grew up celebrating Passover, Pesach in Hebrew, and enjoying the songs, the family dinners and his Grandpa’s trick of hiding a special piece of matzo called the “afikomen.” The child who found it got a special gift. Passover foods are free from any leavening in remembrance of the Jews’ flight from Egypt before their bread could rise. One year when our sons were six and four, David’s parents came to us from Pennsylvania to celebrate Pesach.
The day before Passover, my Jewish in-laws would perform a ritual ceremony in which the family would “search” for breadcrumbs placed around the house so that they would be found and removed. This symbolic search was a part of the excitement leading up to the first seder, which is always celebrated at sundown on the first day of Passover. David’s mom would pack away all of the usual plates, silverware and cooking utensils to replace them with a Passover set. When all of that was complete and the shopping had been done, she would prepare two beautiful dinners because Passover is celebrated two nights in a row except in Israel, where there is only one seder.
When the Goldin grandparents arrived, my mother-in-law, Grace, set about to teach me how to make matzo ball soup, brisket, chopped chicken livers, and what my husband has always called “Jewish Chicken.” We rendered chicken fat (a first for me) to make the clear fat used in the matzo balls. We chopped tons of onions, grated fresh horseradish for the “bitter herb” required for the table, roasted kosher chickens, and prepared the brisket for a day’s slow cooking. By the end of the first day-before seder number one- I was exhausted! My hat goes off to Jewish women around the world who prepare not one but two feasts, back to back.
Both of the dinners, with two sets of guests, were fabulous. The six- year-olds (my son had a friend join us) did great. The four- year-olds celebrated a part of the evening under the table and had a blast. We had our first seder as a family and it was lovely. Even though the songs were not known by many of the guests, it was fun to share in the Passover story and the scrumptious food and traditions. Learning about Passover was a wonderful experience for all of us who had never celebrated one before.
Whether you are celebrating Easter, Passover, or the Earth’s renewal, April is a beautiful month to enjoy all the gifts nature brings us at this time of year. There is certainly something for everyone to celebrate and many ways to say it. Mom to Madre wishes everyone a Happy Easter. Felices Pascuas. Happy Pesach. Happy Spring. Celebrations with our families make our lives richer.