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Monthly Archives: March 2014

  • Six Strange Easter Traditions

    This winter was a long one, so the fact that Easter is less than a month away is a much-welcomed sign of spring. Do you ever think it's strange that, here in the United States, we fill baskets with chocolate bunnies and peanut chews, pretending to our children that a giant rabbit left it? Or that we hide coins and candies in plastic eggs around the house and backyard, risking that they will never be found? We have partaken in these traditions so many times that we don't stop to think how bizarre they might seem to people of other cultures…especially because when you take a look at their traditions, they do seem pretty far-fetched.

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    Czech Republic: Whipping Women for their Health

    You read that correctly: in the Czech Republic, the men whip the women with sticks decorated with colorful ribbon, and sometimes douse them with water. They do this every year on Easter Monday. It stems from a Pagan tradition and is supposed to keep them young and healthy. It's not meant to be painful, but we're sure some of the younger boys take advantage of the opportunity.

    Germany: Burning Christmas Trees

    Though the Germans have a strange Easter ritual, it's kind of a nice one. They save the remnants of their Christmas trees so they can pile them into a heap and burn them around Eastertime. It signifies the end of winter and the beginning of spring, which is always a cause for celebration.

    France: Flying Bells

    Here in the States, we have the Easter Bunny, but in France, they have an Easter…bell? On Good Friday, the bells in France's churches are silenced in order to recognize Jesus' death, but the French believe that the bells are quiet because they fly to Rome and return back on Easter Sunday. They have many bell-shaped candies, the way we have bunny-shaped candies, to celebrate.

    Poland: Men Stay out of the Kitchen

    It is said that men aren't allowed to knead or bake the bread on Easter – and some believe that the men shouldn't cook at all. If they do, it's believed that their mustaches will turn grey. More likely, this tradition was started by a clever man who didn't want to do chores on the holiday!

    Finland: Halloween on Easter?

    If you're ever in Finland on Easter, you might be confused as to which holiday is being celebrated. It's tradition for children to dress up as witches and go around the neighborhood hunting for treats. The tradition started due to the belief that witches would fly from Finland to Germany and dance with Satan, and only bonfires can scare them away.

    UK: Egg Rolling Competitions

    Eggs are a popular symbol for Easter in the US, but in the UK they're sporting equipment! There are many egg rolling competitions held on Easter during which the competitors roll their eggs down a hill and see which gets the most distance, or which can survive the most competitions.

  • The Sweet Truth Behind Easter Candy

    As winter slowly falls behind us, we bid farewell to many of the wholesome holidays that focus on candy and other sweet foods. Though Halloween, Christmas, and Thanksgiving are behind us, many wait eagerly for the arrival of Easter amidst spring time’s warmer weather. While most people already know and understand the origin story behind the holiday, many remain confused as to how candy became such a centralized theme of Easter. Nationwide, people buy chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and marshmallow chicks due to the iconic nature and tradition behind them. Yet, how did it all begin?

    To find the origin of Easter candy exchange, we must go back to the 14th century and the classic Hot Cross Bun. Hot Cross Buns were known as the traditional morning meal during Good Friday due to their trademark “cross” imagery, and became a general Christian tradition in its own right. Similarly, though not sweet, the ubiquitous pretzel twist was also considered an Easter treat hundreds of years ago. Its very design was very reminiscent of arms that were crossed in prayer, providing for further religious iconography that could be easily passed around and enjoyed.

    The tradition of distributing these baked goods to friends and loved ones continued well into the 17th century, but by the 1800’s Easter enthusiasts sought to develop more alluring foods to associate with their favorite holiday. In Europe, chocolate had become the preferred snack food of the wealthier classes, and so chocolatiers used the image of the egg as a way to celebrate Easter and sell their products. The egg was a symbol of life, resurrection, and health, many of the concepts that were already associated with the holiday. This is when the first chocolate eggs appeared, quickly making their way from Europe into France and Germany.

    The next most common Easter candy, the Jelly Bean, didn’t appear until the 1930’s. Jelly beans are often times considered the offspring of Turkish Delight, a candy already popular in the Americas in the 30’s. The “bean” shape, which many people believed looked more like an egg, quickly became associated with the Easter Bunny. The iconic rabbit of holiday lore had already been a popular cultural symbol during the Civil War, believe to bring chocolate eggs symbolizing life to soldiers. From that moment, the jelly bean became one of the most prominently recognized and understood symbols that we still embrace today.

    While there are many more Easter candies, most are stylized adaptations of candies that already existed. Every spring the candy aisles fill with rabbit, chick, and pastel motifs, giving way to one of the year’s most popular celebrations. There are plenty of other interesting historical facts behind why these shapes and colors show up every Easter, but the sweet secret of candy’s presence is now yours to savor.

  • Making Miraculous and Fantastic Fudge

    If you’re looking for the perfect dessert for a family get together or social function, what better option is there than classic fudge? While some people may be so inclined to purchase fudge from a local shop, the more industrious chef can make their own for a fraction of the price. Best of all, the recipe is simple enough that you can make as little or as much as you need without much of a hassle. To start, make sure that you have the following ingredients:

     

    • 6 oz. of Evaporated Milk
    • 1 3/4 Cups of Sugar
    • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
    • 1 1/2 Cups of Mini Marshmallows
    • 1 1/2 Cups of Semisweet Chocolate Chips
    • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
    • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
    • 1 Tablespoon of Butter
    • 9” x 9” Baking Pan

     

    Once you’ve amassed your ingredients, carefully combine the evaporated milk, salt, and sugar into a large pot. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

    Set the heat on your stove to high and bring mixture to a boil. Once the liquid begins boiling, reduce heat to low and allow it to simmer for approximately 5 minutes.

    Remove the mixture from the stove and slowly stir in the Mini Marshmallows, Semisweet Chocolate Chips, Vanilla Extract, and Chopped Walnuts.

    Continue stirring until Mini Marshmallows are completely melted and have been blended thoroughly within the mixture. Check to insure no solid marshmallows remain.

    Butter your pan until all sides are thinly coated, and begin to pour mixture into the pan.

    All the mixture to cool in the refrigerator or on the counter until hard and cool to the touch.

    Cut finished chocolate fudge into small pieces and serve.

     

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