alexandra alger


Of Chocolate Eggs and Boiled Eggs

For our family, as for many unobservant Christians we know, Easter is all about hunting for colored eggs and inhaling vast quantities of egg- or bunny-shaped candy. Eggs and bunnies are symbols of spring and fertility from ancient times, various internet sources tell me—and of course, have nothing to do with the resurrection of Christ. (In a 2012 article, The Huff Post says Easter eggs were made out of chocolate starting in the 19th century.) And neither does the serving of ham at Easter lunch, which harkens back to a time when pork was an abundant source of meat in early spring.

I love an occasion to gorge on jelly beans and chocolate eggs. I certainly do. But now that the kids are older, and we’re not having Easter-egg hunts anymore, and I’m buying jelly beans and chocolate eggs mainly for MOI—whose aging body really could do without them—I’m starting to feel envious of my Jewish friends. Passover is a holiday with rituals that are meaningful for the observant and non-observant alike. Years ago, a work friend invited me to a women’s Seder she hosted at her place. It was a revelation to have a meal imbued with such meaning. I now have to admit I don’t remember much. But wait—a memory of hard-boiled eggs is coming back. Jews don’t color the eggs and display them, they actually eat them! The eating of a hard-boiled egg (dipped in salt water and consumed at the beginning of the holiday meal) represents a traditional offering brought to the Holy Temple in ancient times, and is also a symbol of mourning over the loss of the destruction of the temple—or two temples, depending on which website you consult. (I’ve resorted to the internet because my most learned Jewish friends, my best source of information on Jewish traditions, are in Tel Aviv. If anyone reading this can correct me, please do!)

Our Easter will be a family event, a small one. I’m having my mother over for lunch. We’re having fish. I’m going to bake a few whole sea breams. I’ve never done it before, cooked a whole fish. I figure I can’t really mess up—as far as my mother is concerned, there’s no such thing as fish that’s been overcooked. We will not be celebrating the resurrection of Christ, but we will welcome spring—which really might at last have arrived—and all the possibilities of change and growth that spring promises.

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