EASTER FUN FOR EVERYONE!
Happy March! Happy Spring! St. Patrick’s Day. Daffodils. Tulips. And this year, the last day of March is one day away from Easter Eggs.
Yes Easter eggs. I love them. I love to color them in pretty pastels and share them with my friends and family. Of course I love to eat them. It’s hard to imagine but the tradition of coloring eggs goes back to ancient Egypt when during the spring festival of Sham el Nessim, a non- religious holiday still celebrated today, hard boiled colored eggs was a traditional picnic staple. It is believed that Egyptian Pharaohs hung dyed eggs in their temples to symbolize renewed life.
There are many spring holiday customs, but I learned about my favorite Easter egg tradition many years ago after I became engaged. My husband, who is of Armenian descent, taught me the Armenian Egg Cracking Game. One Easter week-end, we visited his Aunt Toorvanda who was getting ready for the holiday by baking her delicious rolls and dying eggs on the top of the stove in a large pot of boiling red onion skins. The eggs, now all the same color rose red, become harder with extra boiling and thus a more formidable competitor.
The competition is usually saved for after Easter dinner. The dyed eggs are placed on a platter in the center of the dining room table. The excitement builds. This is the Super Bowl for eggs.
First you must select your winning egg from the platter. The pecking order (bad egg joke) can be derived by seating position or maybe last year’s winner goes first whatever system is fair for everyone. Remember, you must choose wisely and look for an egg that’s lean with an elongated shape. After you select your champ (keep positive thoughts in mind), you must then select your competitor from those at the table. Draw straws, pick numbers or just say I want Uncle Adam.
Once you know who your competitor is, you have to decide who goes first. Flip a coin. But I’ve been told, it’s best if they go first. Remember this is serious stuff so getting as much good advice as you can, will only lead to victory.
Now hold the egg between your thumb and index finger of both hands so just the tip of the egg peers through the top. Make it as hard as possible for your opponent to crack your egg. Protect that egg with your index finger and thumb. Like football a good defense makes a strong offense. If your egg does crack, no worries, just flip it over and let them have another whack on the other side. Sometimes you can still win the match with one good side, but when both sides crack, you’re toast (Sorry).
If your egg does not crack, you move up the line of contenders until the last man standing has a perfect egg or one good side left. He or she is the winner!
What’s the prize? You get to eat your egg first and have good luck for the year, a prize worth coveting.
At our house, we still carry on this tradition each year only we use my favorite colored eggs and we compete at breakfast. Contestants pick their favorite color but the rest of the game remains traditional with a lot of fun and laughs!
I have since learned that other countries have similar traditions such as Greece, the Ukraine, and Estonia among a few .I would love to visit Armenia, but haven’t as of yet, but I have visited Estonia. The Estonians celebrate Easter in a big way as well with a big mid- day dinner, an Easter egg hunt, and egg painting. Similar to the Armenian tradition, the eggs are dyed with red onion skins or beetroot juice before setting them on a platter as a centerpiece for Easter lunch. After lunch, the egg cracking begins. If your egg is not cracked, you are the winner.
Very beautiful hand painted and decorated eggs are also part of Estonia’s traditions. I remember we went into a small coffee shop near Lake Bled and its castle and the proprietor hand painted the hollow eggs herself. To my surprise, my husband bought one and saved it for my Christmas stocking.
So this holiday, try something fun and different with your family. Celebrate with an egg cracking contest and start your own Armenian tradition.