Celebrating spring with a small side plate of 'Easter'
April 3, 2015 4:41 AM   Subscribe

While we aren't religious, we still celebrate Easter as a holiday by branding it as a celebration of spring/renewal/rebirth/life etc. I am looking for ideas we can add to that tradition.

Some details: we have a six year old and do the Easter bunny for candy's sake though she assures us he's 'just a guy in a suit'. One thing I'm thinking of if it's nice outside is a ritual burning of the last Christmas tree in the fire pit (it's legal here, I checked). In the past we've had family over but this year there's some sickness in the family and it's just going to be us three and our pets.

What are some little ideas, rituals, foods, music, lights, decorations--inside or outside--that we can do to sort of mark the occasion and celebrate the emergence of the daffodils? Is there anything your family does on Easter that is special to you?

Also: cocktails.

We're in the northeast/New England. We're pretty low key and typically pretty stressed so nothing too overwrought. We live in a rural area surrounded by woods and we're pretty hippy dippy. We love animals and nature and just put up two new bird feeders and a squirrel feeder. We have access to your standard array of stores (Whole Foods, Macy's, Target....etc).

Note on eggs: we have done egg decorating but I'm the only person willing to eat hardboiled eggs and I only want to eat one or two a year. Plus, I save eggshells for the garden and would just as soon they not be dyed and/or covered in glitter.

Thanks all.

(TL/DR in bold)
posted by A Terrible Llama to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You could blow out the eggs, eat the insides and then decorate the shells. That way, you can keep them. Maybe use them to decorate a tree or some branches? Here in the Netherlands, 'easter trees' are a thing.

Also, burning the old Christmas tree is a great idea. In some parts of the Netherlands, it's an old tradition to celebrate Easter with a big bonfire for everyone in the village to stand around and chat.

For a cocktail: advocaat (well, duh!) decorated with a spring flower or a peep?
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:00 AM on April 3, 2015

I always use Easter as an excuse to plant something, maybe decorate or pick out a nice pot and plant flowers or a veggie y'all enjoy?
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 5:40 AM on April 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

What about planting something? A small tree or flowering bush or something (sorry, gardening is totally not my thing but hopefully you know what's season- and soil-appropriate). Each year you can have the ritual of seeing the new growth on your plant. Perhaps you can photograph it each season (or at least each Easter) and build up an album of the life cycle both of it and your family as your child gets older.
posted by billiebee at 5:41 AM on April 3, 2015

Is there a Labyrinth anywhere near you? My labyrinth was a popular destination on Easter for my friends and customers :)
posted by PlantGoddess at 5:51 AM on April 3, 2015

We are in a similar secular Easter place - I was raised that way - and keep it relatively mainstream. I look forward to making a bunny cake every year, dyeing and hiding eggs, the Easter Bunny comes, we have an asparagus-heavy meal, and all enjoy ourselves.

Regarding dyeing eggs and the garden - would you consider natural egg dyes a fun project or a giant pain?

I really like Too-Ticky's idea. We have neighbors who hang decorated eggs from bare tree branches. I think the idea of decorating bare branches (with anything that appeals) is particularly nice when we're wanting Spring but don't really have it yet. How about a muddy hike or a trip to a farm? We went to see the lambs last week.

(PS - I use another cake recipe for the bunny cake; that link is just for the cutting out)
posted by chocotaco at 6:07 AM on April 3, 2015

Frog / salamander walk? They come out and mate in early spring, especially salamanders. A twilight stroll with flashlights is a great way to find them.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:08 AM on April 3, 2015

Back when I was religious (read as: too young to get out of going to church), my church did a Sunrise Service and breakfast on Easter mornings. I was never a huge fan of church, but I loved the Sunrise Service - there was something momentous and solemn, but happy, about gathering in a large group on the lawn, at the edge of a patch of pine trees, to watch the sun come up . The conversation afterwards always seemed hushed and respectful, without really having much to do with Jesus, if that makes any sense. I think it spoke to my inner pagan. :)

So: Maybe a family sunrise "service", minus the religion?
posted by kythuen at 6:28 AM on April 3, 2015

The first time I was away from my family for Easter and therefore not going to celebrate it, I marked the event by going camping. There was something about waking up in nature, at sunrise, on Easter morning that made me feel very Spring-y - I suppose you could think of it like your own little symbolic winter and spring awakening, going into 'hibernation' as your fire died down, making it through the dark, chilly night, and then emerging from your tent to the sound of birds singing and the fresh Spring air ... If you're already having a bonfire the night before anyway, why not stick up a tent and make a night of it?
posted by DingoMutt at 6:30 AM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

People have all recommended planting things, and that would work. You could also go on a "nature walk" to look for "signs of spring" - even where you are, there may be some very early buds on trees or the beginnings of crocuses in people's yards or such. Or if there's a nearby farm you can see if you can visit to see if there are any baby animals (I grew up near the University of Connecticut's agricultural school, and spring visits to see the baby pigs and lambs was a frequent thing).

And for food - a sort of brothy pasta primavera. Pick all the "baby-whatever" vegetables at the farmers' market and simmer them in a little broth or tomato sauce and serve over pasta (I'd do just broth myself, to get the cleanest flavor in the vegetables, but I don't know if you have a vegetable-averse kid).

As for the decorating eggs - use plant materials to dye them, like onion skins or red cabbage. There are "recipes" here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:40 AM on April 3, 2015

We go to the zoo.
posted by maloon at 6:41 AM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yep, going to the zoo is something we have done, and also nature walks.

My sister always decorates some bare branches either inside the house or outside, depending on the weather and her inclination that year. Usually she hangs some egg shaped things of some sort, and paper streamers, and a few glittery bits. Pastel colors are prominent, and tulips or hyacinths often appear in a vase.

We also used to do a little neighborhood Easter Egg hunt. In our case, several families would get together and the hunt stretched through a few yards and the edge of the adjacent woods, but we've also done it just on our own. We blew out the eggs and just used the shells and put little bitty gifties inside, like a little toy dinosaur for example. If you don't want to use real egg shells you can also get reusable plastic eggs that open up to put stuff inside.
posted by gudrun at 10:38 AM on April 3, 2015

It's isn't Easter/Spring/Ostara without a lamb cake. My grandmother always made one for family Easter gatherings and the tradition still continues. She always made it with a poor man's fruit cake, frosted it with a whipped frosting and covered that with shredded coconut. Bonus points for cloves as the eyes and a little sliver of maraschino cherry for a mouth.

Lots of lamb cakes recipes & tips at Mid-Century Menu.
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:04 AM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hot cross buns? Also, my family always used to decorate a young tree with colorful paper easter eggs on ribbons.
posted by three_red_balloons at 3:16 PM on April 3, 2015

It is surprisingly easy to establish traditions with children. They can be fairly loosely defined and even enforced. Here's what we (usually) do:

Go to a local chocolate store (almost) every year to each select our own chocolate then share a huge ice cream sundae.
I like to cook so plan to make some recipes with the kids - we made a homemade gnocchi with ricotta that was so easy it was ready to go in the boiling water in the time it took the water to boil. I also made Kenji's slow roasted tomato sauce from the same site.
Dye eggs in a different way each year. If you blow the eggs out then you have more options such as using acrylic paint since the eggs won't be eaten after the painting.
Everyone gets an Easter basket with mostly non-candy items (birthdays are all on the other half of the year so this is a good time to give presents).
Egg hunt Easter morning. Occasional years the weather is good and dry enough to be outside.
Discuss a few times in passing the convergence of Passover, Easter, and Spring themes of renewal.
Spring cleaning ("Easter Bunny" likes things to be neat).
For Passover, we made a pavlova last night.
Most years we travel and are home for Easter or the day after and this is the day we have a family meal - usually breakfast-themed. The menu varies from year to year.
Make sure there is a plant of bouquet of fresh flowers for in the house (really too early to be planting most things outside).
posted by RoadScholar at 8:29 AM on April 4, 2015

I make a coconut cream pie with green tinted coconut on top so it looks like grass. Decorate with Peeps or pastel M&Ms. Or make cupcakes decorated the same way on top.
posted by CathyG at 2:36 PM on April 5, 2015

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