Easter: Celebrating Rebirth and Rejuvenation!
As I took a large sip from the tall chilled glass of delightfully tangy kokum sherbet I found myself beginning to enjoy my quick trip to this quaint village in Bardez, Goa delivering a package on behalf of a friend. With the glass at my lips, my eyes wandered around the well-stocked kitchen finally settling on a large tray on the dining table with several colourful ovoid objects. Aunt Lobo, a genial greying lady, gave an amused chuckle as she followed my gaze, “Those are marzipan eggs for the Easter feast this Sunday”, she spoke up, “I make loads every Easter to distribute among neighbours and relatives.” I had only a faint idea of Easter being a Christian festival, but nothing more beyond that. Here was my opportunity – who better to ask than the devout and much revered Aunt Lobo? As I expressed my ignorance Aunt Lobo settled into a cane chair and readily assumed the role of an affable teacher.
“For us Christians, Easter is a festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which according to the New Testament occurred on the third day of his burial following his crucifixion. It also marks the end of Lent, a 40-day period of prayer, fasting and penance. But you would be surprised to know that for many people the world over Easter is a celebration of the spring season – the beginning of new life all around! In fact, the word Easter itself has its origin in Eostre or Ostara, the Germanic goddess of spring.”
“Among the most familiar symbols of Easter are the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs. The bunny – or originally the hare – is an ancient symbol of fertility and new life as it is reproduces quite prolifically. The egg is an age-old symbol of new life and rebirth. In medieval times birds’ eggs would have been the first food available in the wild after a harsh winter and were considered a sign of renewal of life. From a Christian perspective, the egg symbolises the resurrection of Jesus Christ – the egg looks devoid of life when viewed externally, but within it lies a new life form awaiting emergence into the world. While orthodox Christians dye the eggs red to symbolise the blood shed by Christ on crucifixion, others also colour them yellow and green signifying the spring season’s sun, tender leaves and grass. It is now common practice to make eggs out of chocolate and marzipan, wrap them in vividly coloured foil, and gift them among family and friends as an end of the season of fasting and a celebration of the joy of Easter”, concluded Aunt Lobo.
It was quite late in the evening by the time I left Aunt Lobo’s home stuffed with knowledge as well as several of her superlative Marzipan Easter Eggs, the recipe for which is reproduced below for you to make and enjoy.
Goan Marzipan Easter Eggs Recipe
cashew nuts: 250 g
sugar: 350 g
egg white: of 2 eggs
rose water: ½ cup
salt: a pinch
1) Soak cashew nuts overnight. Rinse and drain.
2) Grind together cashew nuts, sugar, egg white, rose water and salt into a smooth paste.
3) Transfer paste to a kadhai and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, till the mixture thickens and leaves the sides of the kadhai. If a small ball of this mixture dropped in a bowl of water hardens immediately, your mixture is ready.
4) Transfer to a greased plate and allow mixture to cool slightly. Use greased moulds to make the desired shape; you may even shape them with greased hands. (Add food colour to the mixture as desired to make coloured eggs.)
Wishing you and your dear ones a Happy Easter!