Ciao a tutti! / Sziasztok!
So since my last blog Easter happened in Casa Europa (this is how our volunteer flat is called but we are thinking about changing it to Beach House) and it was all about food as usual. First we started with some Galician traditional meal a week before while our very own Finnish had planned a four-course meal for Easter Sunday. As there is not much else to do we really dug ourselves into everything culinary, including roasting marshmallows above a tea-light (yes, I did that). To complete the range of traditional dishes I had to cook a ham (a smoked one from Lidl, kinda tastes weird) and boil eggs complementing them with horseradish and vegetables. In Hungary we also accompany it with braided brioche but I couldn’t find it and was lazy – not like last year so let’s insert a proof of that after showing you all I mentioned above.
It is very interesting how all this food represents something on the table during Easter in European culture. Although, it is obvious that these symbols are big part of this holiday because of its strong connection to Christianity, there are also practical reasons. In the Middle Ages, the church forbade eating meat and eggs during Lent (from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday). As a result, farmers accumulated large numbers of eggs before Easter and so they were cooked, decorated, consecrated in the church and then given away. They reappeared on the table on Easter Sunday. Farmers also often paid part of their rent in ‘eggs with interest’ at Easter – which I think all of us Millenials wish we could still do.
Eggs are especially powerful symbols appearing way before they were adapted by Christians. They embody the idea of fertility, rebirth and rejuvenation in the cycle of life, reflected also in its shape, with neither beginning nor end. Many cultures believe eggs to be the source of new life from inanimate matter, and even that the world emerged from an egg. In Ancient Egypt, an egg was revered as the origin of the world. One version of the creation myth mentions the cosmic egg hatching the ‘bird of light’. The Chinese already gave painted eggs as gifts at the beginning of spring some 5000 years ago. In Ancient Greece and Rome, to celebrate the equinox in March (the beginning of the year), it was customary to hang up colourful eggs and given them as gifts. In this example, eggs represented new beginnings. With a similar connotation, from the 4th century, eggs also served as funeral offerings, placed in Roman-Germanic tombs to wish the deceased be resurrected.
Talking about fertility and rebirth I thought it is the right time to talk about the Netflix miniseries called Unorthodox based on the memoir of/by Deborah Feldman. It came out last year but I only watched it now, during Easter. It is the first Netflix series to be primarily in Yiddish, following the journey of Esty, a young Hasidic woman desperate to leave her community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This community was founded by a Holocaust survivor originally from Szatmárnémeti (then Hungary), whose aim was to please God with and set an example with a strict lifestyle and to bring as many children into the world as possible, thereby increasing the number of the declining Jewish community – as it was mentioned in the movie “to rebuild the lost 6 million”.
The strict rules apply especially to girls; they can only complete three years in high school, after which they can no longer study. It is also specified what books they can read – English language literature is forbidden as it spoils their souls. It is completely unuseful anyway as they can’t really work, only a few occupations are available for women. Their job is to have a children, raise a children and satisfy the needs and desires of the husband. At the age of 17, a girl in the Hasidic Jewish community has one task: to get married and give birth. Because Esty and her husband have problems with fertility they get all the unwanted advice from the members of the community, which is very difficult for Esty to handle so she starts to make a plan…
I hope I didn’t spoil too much of the content of the show. I extremely recommend it for everyone to watch. There are many topics like religion, oppression of women and historical events that can be sparked by this series to discuss and I have only scratched the surface.
Ci vediamo dopo,
Györgyi – l’ungherese