Easter Preparations


Easter was a very special occasion not only for our religious beliefs but for the preparation of specific foods that included the Holy Easter eggs. Only the largest and whitest of eggs would do. Ma herself made the selection from those laid by our chickens in the days prior to Easter. 1 1/2 to 2 dozen were selected. These were boiled and dyed in a large pot filled with yellow onion skins. Ma would leave them boil for 15 minuets or longer and remove them at different times so that the colors ranged from yellow to brown. When dried, words such as "He is Risen or Alleluia'' were scratched on the shell using the fine point of a knife or other instrument.

The anticipated Easter feast also included a large pork roast and lots of kielbasa which Ma garnished with parsley and tea berries. Special platted Easter bread was also prepared along with a large glazed ham and fruit. The food was placed in baskets and on the Saturday before Easter it was carried to one of several designated houses in Morea which the priest from Mahanoy City would visit for a special blessing.

Ours was carried to Aunt Anna's house- the most spacious and best for the occasion. Uncle Stanley and Aunt Anna never had any children, and they had a very nice well furnished house with real store bought rugs. Uncle was one of the main contractors at the Morea colliery and was relatives wealthy by patch standards.

This was also a busy time for Aunt Anna who not only had to prepare her own foods but also set up a long table which she covered with a long white meticulously clean table cloth. The center piece consisted of a cross and a shallow bowl filled with Holy Water which contained multi-branched piece of a bush with small leaves. This was used to absorb the Holy water which the priest then sprinkled on the baskets of food as they were blessed. Aunt Anna's table held specially prepared food from 5 different families.

Family representatives stood by for the blessing.

The priest was usually assisted by an altar boy.. After the blessing each family made a donation to the priest (usually 5 cents or $1) The priest would then acknowledge the presence of the altar boy with ''And the altar boy''. With these words the altar boy usually parted with another smaller coin. I was later advised that the priest usually chose boys from poor families to accompany him--thus enriching their Easter.

After the proper prayers and blessings the food was taken home and the non-perishable breads fruits and sweets were placed on our table. Visitors were welcomed and we invited them to share our hospitality. The specially dyed eggs however, were not placed on the tabled but were reserved for Easter Sunday.

Early Easter Sunday, my father, grandmothers and the oldest children walked to church--weather permitting, and then back again.

On their return, we sat down to a feast which began with the blessed eggs which Ma peeled. This task was not left to the younger children since even the egg shells were considered holy and less they be desecrating she carefully gathered all these remnants and burned them. At this time Pa would tell us about the beauty of Easter and about our blessed food.

The Holy eggs were symbolic of hope and the resurrection.

The blessed bread was to remind us at Jesus and the Holy Eucharist as the bread of everlasting life.

The pork and ham were to celebrate freedom through Jesus and the New Testament.

Wine and fruit represented sparkle and joy in the glory Easter and the resurrection.

Easter, with our family was always a most joyous and blessed occlusion.