Remembering Easter family traditions
Easter: a time for levity, enlightenment, renewal of faith and favourite memories of Bermuda’s bygone days – BC and BP – Before Covid lockdowns and before plastic eggs.
Our mothers sewed frantically, creating matching outfits, waistcoats for the boys, dresses for the girls – all complete with Easter hats.
The air surrounding the Botanical Gardens heavy with lily pollen, fragrance and buzzing bees as whole families lined up – in pecking order – for the annual pictures.
In agrarian upcountry, our farmers tended massive fields of millions of Bermuda lilies for final scheduled shipment abroad.
Proud makers of homemade, gorgeous Bermuda kites congregated, the creations competing for domination under blue, blue skies. Up, up, they flew, swirling and buzzing ascending endlessly it seemed as the trade winds blew and the waves below revolved in endless progressions.
The much-anticipated annual Bermuda Easter Parade – so unique in its kind that it drew thousands of visitors to the island while the local population turned out to line the streets of Hamilton.
Families and businesses worked days on end, decorating innovative parade floats with thousands of local flora and fauna, using whatever mediums of mobility at hand: bicycles, horses, automobiles and trucks. Our family turned the family car into a sewing machine replete with palm leaves, lilies, and a large agave piece with a horrific point for the stitching needle. Regrettably, the Bermuda Easter Parade tradition ended in the late 1970s, depriving our children and grandchildren of a unique and wonderfully, collaborative community celebration.
Tiny real bunnies, chick, and ducklings dyed Easter egg colours sitting in egg cartons, sometimes excitingly appeared.
As every living thing does, they grew up bigly, far too quickly. Some made it to rabbit hutches or chicken coops; others ended up in the proverbial stew pot or Sunday dinner. Duck a l’orange was never appealing after that – even given Julia Child’s enthusiasm.
Remarkably, Easter and Egg celebration traditions have existed since the 1300s, while decorated Ostrich eggs far more ancient, 60,000 years old, have been discovered in Africa.
Easter egg painting, dying, sculpting (wood, etc), and the utmost of beautiful excess, the Imperial Russian (and facsimile) Faberge eggs are still valued as treasures today.
A wonderful narrative in the Scandinavian Standard recounts celebrating eggs as a symbolic rebirth, the coming of spring, new life, and very realistically, resumption of farm egg production.
“Eggs were particularly prized at Easter because before industrial farming, hens laid few to no eggs over winter due to the lack of sunlight. When spring arrived, the hens began to lay eggs again.
Eggs were so highly valued that they were even used as a partial payment of salaries for pastors, parish clerks and servants.”
Easter eggs and the “candiss” (pronounced candy for those not used to Bermudian vernacular)
The biggest Easter candiss favourites in our house a long, long time ago were in order of preference: chocolate bunnies, creme-filled eggs, marshmallow yellow peeps and jelly beans. No one liked the liquorice ones. They were always left for last.
Indulging in those sweet edibles today almost precipitates a full-blown insulin attack.
Another Easter treat – remember the sugar Easter eggs with the little diorama scenes inside. They were better to look at than to eat, plus if you left them out of the fridge, the Bermuda humidity turned them into syrupy liquid in the space of hour.
Old or antique sugar Easter egg dioramas preserved for posterity (can’t imagine how they would taste – sort of like real old wedding cake) are selling on eBay for anywhere from $10 to $40.
And of course, the magical Easter egg hunt, where moms were hard put to assuage the whining of those who did not win, then afterwards how to use up all those hard-boiled eggs. Egg salad on hot cross buns, anyone?
The amazing simple egg as food
Castigated for years, egg consumption recommendations have changed positively. However, you are cautioned that any dietary issue concerns relative to your health should be discussed with your physician.
According to Nourish by WebMD, Eggs are a dietary mainstay. Along with milk, eggs contain the highest biological value (or gold standard) for protein. One egg has only 75 calories but 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, along with iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids.
The egg is a powerhouse of disease-fighting nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults. And brain development and memory may be enhanced by the choline content of eggs.
Store – in the refrigerator – and cook them thoroughly to kill any potential bacteria.
Eggs contribute to quiches, omelettes, Bermuda’s famous bread pudding, custards, cakes, bread, pasteurised eggnog, and as decorations, limited only by our imagination. Protein for protein, eggs are a nutritional bargain compared to many other foods, or pseudo food snacks.
One egg a day
Ingenious Bermuda islanders residing where space/animals are permitted, have acquired domestic or feral chickens. Living in a quiet corner in a fenced- pen surrounded by banana trees, two hens can produce two eggs a day, while gorgeous crops of bananas become a real home-grown treat.
The Bermuda Dream: protein-packed custard, a family tradition
Two 8oz packages full-fat cream cheese
One 14oz can condensed milk full fat
One 12oz can evaporated milk full fat
All at room temperature. Prep time, ten minutes.
In large bowl, beat cream cheese with eggs using a hand whisk (or a mixer) one at a time. Then slowly beat in condensed milk, then stir in evaporated milk until blended. Grease (butter) a 9x13-inch glass pan, or similar, pour in mixture. Bake 340 at degrees F about 35-40 minutes until top is not jiggly and has a few cracks. Served warm like custard. Cool, cut into squares. Keeps a week in fridge, can be frozen.
Happy Easter, everyone. Stay safe and well.
“How Did Easter Eggs Become a Tradition?” Scandanavian Standards, April 5, 2020, by Sorcha McCrory
“The egg is no longer a nutritional no-no”, WebMD, by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
Step 15 of the Bermuda Islander Primer: The Dimming of the Day, Is Your Estate Planning in Order
• Martha Harris Myron, CPA JSM, a native Bermudian, is the author of The Bermuda Islander Financial Planning Primers, consultant to the Olderhood Group Bermuda, and financial columnist to The Royal Gazette. All proceeds from these articles are donated to the Salvation Army, Bermuda. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org