The Table: TRADITIONS of EASTER

Ham is the traditional main course for Easter.
Ham is the traditional main course for Easter.
Photo courtesy of Barbara Buckley Connelly
The Buckley Girls are shown in the early 1960s
Photo courtesy of Barbara Buckley Connelly The Buckley Girls are shown in the early 1960s

The egg is an ancient pagan symbol for spring. It is the time of rebirth. To Christians the egg represents Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Easter is always on a Sunday – the date is movable which is determined by the Spring Equinox.

Christians define the egg shell to represent the tomb of Jesus. The center is Jesus’ body that emerges from the tomb and his resurrection three days after his crucifixion. Eggs are colored red to symbolize his blood.

A prominent secular symbol is the rabbit or better known as the Easter Bunny. Somehow it was German immigrants who brought with them with stories of an egg laying hare – “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” The tale first surfaced in the 1500s in Germany. It was in the 1700s in Pennsylvania that children started making nests for the rabbits that lay colored eggs for the holiday.

As rabbits give birth to large litters – they symbolize fertility of the earth. Rabbits are prolific breeders and a female can conceive another litter before the birth of their previous litter.

Advertisement

Somehow all these stories and facts developed that the Easter Bunny leaves the eggs on Easter Sunday. Still true today – in addition to the dyed eggs are tons of candy of many varieties found in the Easter Basket. The first chocolate candy eggs were developed by the French and Germans – due to the successful molding of chocolate.

Through the years, the Easter Parade popped up. The best known parade is the one in New York City on Fifth Avenue (between 49th & 57th streets) on Easter Sunday 10 a.m. & 4 p.m. The Easter Parade tradition has spread throughout the country. Strollers are encouraged to dress-up and show-off their finery.

This brings us to the wearing of a new outfit at Easter topped with wearing of a new Easter Bonnet. New clothes are like a renewal and a promise for a good beginning – as spring represents to us.

By tradition a new or fancy bonnet/hat for the occasion is worn by the ladies. As hats have become a lesser worn head gear – gone are the fancy hats. I love hats of the old school – big with stuff like flowers and ribbons. Today, the baseball cap is the most popular hat worn by both males and females.

Barbara Buckley Connelly relates an Easter family tradition. Barbara, her three sisters and their mother Rita donned the yearly Easter hat attending church at St. Mary’s on the north side of town. They along with many of her Brynes cousins would go to their Grandmother’s house (on Emmett Street) for lunch. Once there, they would toss their hats and coats into the Grandmother’s first floor bedroom. After lunch all the girls would try on each other’s hats and model them for all of the family present. Later in the afternoon the Buckley family paraded down to Nana Buckley’s house on High Street for more modeling.

This brings to mind a favorite Easter memory of my own. It was when I was four, five or six years old. It was Holy Saturday after we all went to bed about 11 p.m. when the doorbell rang. Since, it was unusual for someone to be at our door so late, my father, my mother and I all went to answer the door. There stood a florist deliveryman who was running late with his Easter deliveries. At that time it was unheard of to make a delivery on Easter Sunday, so they had to finish-up on Saturday. He announced that there was a corsage for me. For me -- I was so excited! My godfather or my krestzpapa as I called him (Kalmon Martin) had sent it to me. I never really knew him well, but on occasion he would surprise me with some wonderful and unusual gift. Many years have gone by and I have received other corsages along the way, but this is the one I remember.

Proudly on Easter Day I wore this huge adult-size corsage that went from my shoulder down to my waist to church. I remember wearing it until it fell apart. I wore it every chance I got, only taking it off to go to bed, at my mother’s insistence.

Easter Dinner (my favorite food of all holidays) usually has a lot of leftovers. So I want to share with you a few of what are different without having ham sandwiches and pickled eggs the rest of the week.

This is for the leftover ham. It seems no matter how you may cut back on the size of your ham – there is still some leftover – beside the bone for soup.

Cheesy Ham Croquettes

1 Tbsp. butter or margarine

1 small onion, chopped

2 Tbsp. chives, chopped

½ tsp. garlic powder

2 cup smoked ham, finely chopped

1½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese

3 cups dried breadcrumbs, divided

salt & pepper to taste

4 eggs

2 cups oil for frying

1/8 cup water

Melt butter over medium-heat in a large skillet. Add in onion, chives and garlic; cook for about 10 minutes until tender. In a large bowl combine skillet contents, along with ham, Cheddar cheese and 1½ cups breadcrumbs. Beat 3 eggs and stir into ham mixture. Salt and pepper to taste or diet. Using your hands, make golf ball-size balls of the ham mixture. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-heat. Spread remaining breadcrumbs onto a dish. In another bowl, beat 1 egg, stirring in water. Dip each ball into egg mixture then roll in breadcrumbs. Place each ball carefully into hot oil – careful not to crowd. Fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with sauce you prefer.

After-Easter Muffin Pizza

4 English muffins

Olive oil

Tomato slices

Hard-cooked eggs, sliced

Grated mozzarella

Oregano

Kosher salt

Toast each of the 8 English-muffin halves & place on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over half. Layer on tomato slices, hard-cooked egg slices (1/2 egg each). Top with grated mozzarella cheese – sprinkle with oregano & Kosher salt. Broil for 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

CELEBRATE LIFE EVERY DAY!

Let me hear from you: banjack303@verizon.net. Search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking as well as phoenixvillenews.com for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.”