Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter: The Christian and the Pagan Holiday

It's pretty much common knowledge that Easter is a Christian celebration of Christ's rising, but this holiday also has pagan origins.

Easter falls in the spring, the yearly time of renewal, when the earth renews itself after a long, cold winter. The word Easter comes to us from the Norsemen's Eostur, Eastar, Ostara, and Ostar, and the pagan goddess Eostre, all of which involve the season of the growing sun and new birth. The Easter Bunny arose originally as a symbol of fertility, due to the rapid reproduction habits of the hare and rabbit.

The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hindus all believed the world began with an enormous egg, thus the egg as a symbol of new life has been around for eons.

The egg is nature's perfect package. It has, during the span of history, represented mystery, magic, medicine, food and omen. It is the universal symbol of Easter celebrations throughout the world and has been dyed, painted, adorned and embellished in the celebration of its special symbolism.

Before the egg became closely entwined with the Christian Easter, it was honored during many rite-of-Spring festivals. The Romans, Gauls, Chinese, Egyptians and Persians all cherished the egg as a symbol of the universe. From ancient times eggs were dyed, exchanged and shown reverence.

Neato ....Huh?

Now, we have tons of hard-boiled, dyed, crayoned, stickered and painted eggs... what do we do with them all?

The Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Step 1: Place eggs in a saucepan in an even layer and cover in cold water, enough to reach the top of the shells.

Step 2: Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Remove from heat immediately and let stand for about 10-15 minutes.

Step 3: Drain off the hot water and cover in cold water along with a few ice cubes. Let stand until completely cooled.

Keep these helpful hints in mind when making your hard-boiled eggs:
Tip: Farm fresh eggs are much harder to peel, so opt for older eggs if you plan to hard boil.
Tip: Add a small amount of baking soda to the boiling water to help make peeling easier.
Tip: Try rolling hard-boiled eggs lightly against a counter for easier cracking and peeling.

The Best Deviled Eggs

Serves 6-8Total

Time: 20 minutes


1 dozen hard-boiled eggs, peeled

3 heaping tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped (plus more for garnish)

4 slices of cooked bacon, finely chopped (or bacon bits)

2 teaspoons dried tarragon

1/2 teaspoon dried mustard

1/2 teaspoon saltFreshly ground pepper, to taste

Take each of your peeled hard-boiled eggs and slice off the bottom (wide) end to expose the yolk. Cut a small sliver off of the top (pointed) end to help it sit up straight.
Scoop out the yolks into a medium-sized bowl and place the whites carefully into an empty egg carton with the hole-end up for filling purposes.
In your bowl, mash the yolks with a fork and add mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, bacon, tarragon and mustard, then stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Use a pastry bag with a piping tip or a zip top plastic bag with a corner snipped at an angle to fill your egg whites with the yolk mixture. Add more mayo if the mixture is too thick to pass through. Garnish with chopped fresh chives.

Tip: You can buy piping tips in the cake decorating section of the grocery store. Try attaching one to your zip top bag for more precise and decorative filling.

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