“Tradition, tradition!” Strains of the song from “Fiddler on the Roof” weave through my mind as I drizzle creamy, sweet glaze on the Easter Bread still warm from the oven. The bread, with its five colored eggs poking up, is a symbol of the Risen Christ. For our family, for my parents before me, and for my grandparents before them, it was a sacred Holy Saturday tradition to prepare the bread for Easter morning. Much like Christ’s body was prepared for burial–only to rise on that first Easter morning long ago.
Kneading the sticky mixture of flour, eggs, yeast, and other ingredients with the heels of my hand, I can hear my mother’s voice say, “…add just a touch of flour…keep it warm by pressing in…there, now it’s smooth and elastic.” A ball of dough ready to rise in a warm place. Tucked in the oven above a steamy pan of water, the yeast will make that ball rise to the dish towels blanketing the bowl.
When my mother baked bread, the dough would percolate overnight in a bowl draped with a heavy covering. The bowl balanced on a chair above the floor furnace for warmth. Sometimes, the process began late on Good Friday. Sometimes, it started on Holy Saturday and finished early Easter morning as we awoke to the savoriness of freshly baked bread wafting through the house.
In our home, while the dough in our oven grows, I carefully remove five fresh eggs from their holders in the carton. Fragile as glass, they will be gently swirled in colors mixed by one of our sons. Handled with care, they are then set to dry in the holes punched out of the coloring kit.
I dwell on the richness of tradition. The golden thread that ties one generation to the next. Actions which speak meaning to our hearts are passed down in times shared, times spent together. Time, a valuable commodity. Will it be squandered or invested into moments that bridge lifetimes?
The oven timer beeps, reminding me to peek at the dough. From here, anise, raisins, and almonds enhance the dough’s flavor. Rolled into two long ropes, the dough is braided. The brightly colored fragile eggs are tucked between the braided strands and the dough is ready to rise again.
At Easter morning breakfast, my husband gingerly lifts the bread and carves a cross on the bottom. It’s blessed and we are reminded that it took Good Friday to give us the Rising that changed our lives.
What traditions make Easter meaningful for you?
“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.'” Matthew 28:5-6a NIV