Among the major holidays, Christmas garners most of the attention with its shiny gifts and brilliant light displays. It’s a three-month barrage of sensory overload, beginning in October, even before Halloween and Thanksgiving promotions kick off, and ends when the last half-price roll of wrapping paper crosses a check out scanner somewhere in America. Cha-ching!
Christmas was my favorite holiday growing up until I realized the Easter season brought forth unparalleled gifts — regifted I guess you could say — from generation to generation in the form of family traditions.
In my home, Easter’s splendor unfolds as I try to recreate the traditions permanently housed in my heart. It’s about recreating the feeling of togetherness, love and acceptance I found in busia’s (Polish for grandma) kitchen during the Easter season.
The painstaking work to create a butter lamb and a lamb cake seemed effortless when busia was at the helm. No recipe to follow; just intuition.
I, however, follow instructions so intently it could be considered stalking. I read and reread the steps for each recipe or decorative project from my tattered Polish Easter traditions “manual” discovered while shopping online for frozen pierogi. Yes, I’ve never attempted to make those delectable dumplings filled with savory or sweet fillings, concerned I would ruin my taste buds’ memory of busia’s version.
Still yearning for the taste of childhood, I’ve adapted my techniques to create updated versions of Easter meal staples. The lamb cake, previously guaranteed to behead itself when turned out from the cake mold, I now make from a cinnamon roll/bread mix that creates a sturdier structure alleviating the need to lay the lamb down on the plate and explain that “it’s sleeping.”
Marrying into an Italian family introduced me to homemade ravioli or “ravis,” an Estes food staple for every holiday. I proudly passed my mother-in-law Barb’s stringent ravi making course one Saturday many years ago and have a certificate to prove it.
It’s one of my favorite memories of Barb because it recreated the feeling of togetherness, love and acceptance I always experienced in busia’s kitchen. No shiny gifts or bright lights. Simply traditions that bind generations forever.