As a kid, Easter weekend was always crazy, loaded with everyone heading in different directions at light speed until things finally calmed down when Easter breakfast was served.
It started, essentially, on Friday afternoon. Sometime after noon, while my father headed out to pick up the ham for Easter breakfast, the pots full of water and eggs were boiled and dozens and dozens of eggs were readied for coloring.
These weren't the garden-variety color-and-go eggs. It's a Polish tradition to make pysanki using heated paraffin wax and a pencil with a glass-headed pin stuck in the eraser. One stroke at a time, the pen was dipped in the melted wax and applied to the egg to make flower and feather patterns on the white shell. The egg is then dipped in dye to make the patterns appear.
Here are some examples of eggs made this way years and years and years ago.
The hard-boiled centers are now dry, and the shells are very brittle with faded color and spots of decay, but you get the idea.
My brother and sisters and I would gather at my parents' house, and the coloring would continue, sometimes into the wee hours, until all the eggs were complete.
The next morning, Saturday, a basket full of the foods for the upcoming Easter breakfast--eggs, bread, butter (formed into the shape of a lamb), a ring of kielbasa, topped with a hand-embroidered cloth--was headed to the church in the Polish section of town to be blessed by the priest with holy water.
Holy Saturday was consistently the windiest day of the year, making it a challenge to keep that cloth on the basket!
Back home, once the basket of foods was put away, preparations began for the rest of the feast, often including a lamb-cake.
This is not my photo, but it's a pretty good representation of the cake. . . when things went well.
I have to say, the cake never really tasted that good. Always a bit too dry, and way too much coconut for my taste. But it looked cute.
Part of the problem in consuming the cake was that my mom would put wooden dowels in the batter to reinforce the weak spots like the neck and the ears to make sure the critter came out of the mold in one piece. You were always a little leary that a forkful of cake would result in a trip to the dentist on Easter Monday!
And some years, the lamb cake looked nothing like the picture of perfection above. Earlier this week, I stumbled upon this article that sounded vaguely familiar to the kitchen shenanigans that happened on those off-years for the lamb cake!
Do your holiday memories include a bit of chaos along with the fun? May your holiday festivities this year be filled with all good things.
Happy Easter! Happy Spring!