Monday, 28 April 2014

Easter 2014

 Hello again. 

Spring is finally here, the daffodils are nearly over, the tulips are out and the flower bed in my vegetable garden is bursting with Spring flowers. 

Dicentra commonly known as Bleeding Heart, one of my favourite Spring flowers

After three and a half weeks of school holidays with a constant stream of friends and relatives visiting (26 in total), I’m finally able to blog again. 
I'm a bit foreign....

I’m Belgian (born in Brussels with a Belgian father and passport) but because I grew up in the UK, I think of it as my home and myself as English really. However there’s no doubt my motherland has had an influence, this is apparent in how we celebrate Easter so I thought I'd blog about my family's continental style celebrations.

Childhood Easters in Belgium.
A basket of eggs about to be hidden. 

When I was a child we quite often had Easter at my the farmhouse of my Walloon grandparents. 
They had 18 grandchildren and it wasn’t uncommon for us all to be there on Easter day.
Easter was a really big deal, at least as big as Christmas - possibly even more celebrated and la table de Paqûes (the Easter table), was one of the highlights of our year. This is because being a bunch of Belgians A LOT of chocolate was involved.
We’d go to church in our best clothes (this always seemed to involve a very itchy jumper) and when we got back there would be a massive egg hunt in the garden.

The Egg Hunt

At this point there was no chocolate, instead we would hunt hard boiled, dyed hen’s eggs. It was perfectly normal for my grandmother to dye and hide over 100 eggs. My cousins, siblings and I would run around wildly, lobbing eggs into our little baskets. At the end they'd all be gathered in and carried off to the breakfast table.

Hiding dyed hens' eggs not chocolate ones  is a tradition I have continued with my children.

Tulips Tony and I planted last Autumn ( see the Back to Black blog).

My Goddaughter Josephine and youngest daughter Dorothy looking for eggs among the tulips.

I had dyed 60 eggs  - they were in and around the vegetable garden.

Dorothy looking in some herb beds.

A quince tree just beyond the vegetable garden.

More eggs at the base of the Quince tree. We never find them all there are always a few left behind...

My teenage daughter Mary  joins in,  heading towards the Spring border.

The border in the vegetable garden where lots of eggs were hidden

La Table de Paqûes
This was always decorated and arranged in the utmost secrecy by the adults. 
The table always looked absolutely beautiful with flowers and pretty crockery and baskets of the collected coloured hen’s eggs.
At each child’s place there would be a relatively modest chocolate egg or bunny, but the rest of the table was covered in little clusters of chocolate eggs and dishes of Easter sweets were dotted about. It was a sight to make a child weep with joy and then send them into a sugar induced coma (if left unsupervised).

View of this year's  table laid for Easter breakfast.

A close up of the cut and decorated branches

Just like when I was a child everyone gets their own fairly modest egg or bunny too.

Traditions passed down

All these customs were faithfully copied throughout my childhood by my South African mother for the Easters when we weren’t in Belgium. 
I in turn have recreated them for my children for the last 19 years and I have no doubt my children, if or when they have children of their own will also recreate Bonne Maman's Easters. 

Just like Bonne Maman, I decorate the table with chocolates and sweets. 

The collected hardboiled hen's eggs


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