Saturday, April 07, 2012

Rabbits and Eggs

Here are the dozen eggs I dyed this afternoon. I think they are pretty! Tomorrow morning Uncle Andy will hide them in the yard for Sofia and Marco to find. After they find them, I think Sofia will decorate them further with stickers and such. The family is coming over for brunch tomorrow morning. It will be our Easter celebration, but also our family celebration for my birthday, which was Thursday.

I got out a few Easter decorations for the table.

 Somewhat pitiful and really, is that rabbit a little creepy, or is it just me?

Odd that our American celebration of Easter is so much about eggs and rabbits. Have you thought about this?

The first time we went to Ecuador to visit Emily in 1999 we were going to be there just before Easter. I knew we would be visiting families and friends of Emily's and I wanted to take some small gifts. At a shop here I found some beautiful egg-shaped candles that were decorated to look like Easter eggs. I bought a whole lot of them and wrapped each in colored tissue to take as little gifts. The first two I presented were to Emily's host mother and her daughter. They opened them and looked at them quizzically and then politely thanked me for the pretty candles that looked like eggs. "Easter eggs" I explained. Emily translated. The mother frowned a little and looked confused. "The Easter Rabbit brings them," I continued. Emily translated. The mother and daughter looked at each other. Their eyes said, " what on earth is this woman talking about??" Emily did her best to explain, but we could tell it sounded ludicrous to these people. Seems the Easter Bunny is unknown in South America, and eggs are not decorated or connected to Easter in any way.

In Catholic South America Easter is much more about Holy Week, or Semana Santa, which follows Christ's last days, including the last supper, his carrying the cross through the city, the crucifixion and at midnight on Saturday night mass is celebrated with great joy for his resurrection. It is a somber week of mourning and ritual and commemoration, with a joyful ending. Sunday morning is business as usual. No bunny. No eggs.

While I felt somewhat mortified by my choice of gifts, I continued to present them to people we met. We just started out by explaining this crazy American custom we observe at Easter time, even telling them the rabbit part, which we chuckled at ourselves once we saw the humor in the whole deal. And in return we learned that the most famous Ecuadorean custom that happens during Holy Week in Ecuador is the eating of Fanesca, a special soup served only during Holy week. Bean and salt cod soup may not sound too festive, but people who let rabbits hide eggs in their yards do not judge. (We ate it. It was, um, interesting.)

Have a lovely day, whether you are celebrating Easter, Passover, somebody's birthday or just the beauty of the season.

:: :: :: :: ::

P.S. If you have the time and want to read an entertaining article, Calvin Trillin wrote, in the New Yorker, about traveling to Cuenca, Ecuador (the very city where we were visiting Emily) during Holy Week specifically to eat as much fanesca as he could find. The article is archived online here.


  1. "people who let rabbits hide eggs in their yards do not judge." You crack me up Terry! You'll be happy to know that the eggs and the rabbits are alive and well in Western Europe (most likely from whence we Americans brought our crazy customs). I find it fascinating how customs are translated in different areas. It's interesting to see where traditions influence and overlap (or in your case, not). I always get a big chuckle from the more conservative Christians around us who poo poo pagan stuff and yet hunt easter eggs, put up a Christmas tree, and replace Halloween with harvest festivals. ;-)

  2. Happy belated Birthday, Terry! Should have let us know sooner.

  3. Fascinating story. Yes, that rabbit is creepy. I used to enjoy the kids' egg hunt at church, when it was small and friendly and gentle, and mostly real dyed eggs. One year it was announced they should be plastic, filled with a treat of some kind. Often it would be coins. The crowd of kids grew. Older kids were allowed to participate. It became more competitive. Eggs were opened and discarded as they were found. I stopped watching. It is no longer sweet. We have allowed Easter to degenerate into a plastic, gimme event. I admire the Ecuadorans for keeping it real. Had salt cod once in Portugal. I couldn't eat it. But, who am I to judge what I haven't eaten. I am going to mull over the image of the reaction to your gifts. Thanks.