Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Story of Easter Eggs

The Story of Easter Eggs
by Christoph Von Shmid

       Many hundred years ago, a good and noble lady, Duchess Rosilinda von Lindenburg, at a time when a cruel war was devastating the land, was obliged to fly from her beautiful home accompanied only by her two little children and one old manservant.
       They found refuge in a small mining village in the mountains, where the simple but contented and happy inhabitants did what they could for their comfort, and placed the best of all they had at the disposal of the wanderers. Nevertheless, their fare was miserable: no meat was ever to be found, seldom fish, and not even an egg; this last for the very good reason that there was not a single hen in the village! These useful domestic fowls, now so common everywhere, were originally brought from the East, and had not yet found their way to this secluded place. The people had not even heard of such "strange birds." This troubled the kind duchess, who well knew the great help they are in housekeeping, and she determined that the women who had been so kind to her should no longer be without them.
       Accordingly, the next time she sent forth her faithful old servant to try and gather news of his master and of the progress of the war, she commissioned him to bring back with him a coop full of fowls. This he did, to the great surprise of the simple natives, and the village children were greatly excited a few weeks later at the appearance of a brood of young chickens. They were so pretty and bright, were covered with such a soft down, were so open-eyed, and could run about after their mother to pick up food the very first day, and were altogether such a contrast to the blind, bald, unfledged, helpless, ugly little birds they sometimes saw in nests in the hedges, that they could not find words enough to express their admiration.
       The good lady now saved up eggs for some time, then invited all the housewives of the village to a feast, when she set before them eggs cooked in a variety of ways. She then taught them how to prepare them for themselves, and, distributing a number of fowls among them, sent the dames home grateful and happy.
       When Easter approached, she was anxious to arrange some pleasure for the village children, but had nothing to give them," not even an apple or a nut," only some eggs; but that, she concluded, was, after all, an appropriate offering, "as an egg is the first gift of the reviving spring." And then it occurred to her to boil them with mosses and roots that would give them a variety of brilliant colors," as the earth," said she, "has just laid aside her white mantle, and decorated herself with many colors ; for the dear God makes the fruit and berries not only good to eat, but also pleasant to look upon," and the children's pleasure would be all the greater.
Easter Blessings
       Accordingly, on Easter Sunday, after the church service, all the little ones of about the age of her own met together in a garden; and, when their kind hostess had talked to them awhile, she led them into a small neighboring wood. There she told them to make nests of moss, and advised each to mark well his or her own. All then returned to the garden, where a feast of milk-soup with eggs and egg-cakes had been prepared. Afterward they went back to the wood, and found to their great joy in each nest five beautiful, colored eggs, and on these a short rhyme was written.
       The surprise and delight of the little ones when they discovered a nest of the gayly colored treasures, was very great, and one of them exclaimed: "How wonderful the hens must be that can lay such pretty eggs! How I should like to see them!"
       "Oh! no hens could lay such beautiful eggs," answered a little girl, " I think it must have been the
little hare that sprang out of the juniper bush when I wanted to build my nest there."
       Then all the children laughed together, and said, "The hares lay colored eggs! Yes, yes! the dear little hares lay the beautiful eggs!" And they kept repeating it till they began really to believe it.
       Not long afterward the war ended, and the Duke Amo von Lindenburg took his wife and children back to their own palace; but before leaving the Duchess set apart a sum of money to be expended in giving the village children every Easter a feast of eggs. She instituted the custom also in her own duchy, and by degrees it spread over the whole country, the eggs being considered a symbol of redemption or deliverance from sin. The custom has found its way even to America, but nowhere out of the Vaterland are the eggs laid by the timid hare.
       To this day children living in the country go to the woods just before Easter, and return with their arms full of twigs and moss, out of which they build nests and houses, each child carefully marking his own with his name. They are then hidden behind stones and bushes in the garden, or, if the weather be cold, in corners, or under furniture in the house. And on Easter morning what an excitement there is to see what the good little hare has brought! Not only real eggs boiled and colored but sugar ones too, and often wooden ones that open like boxes, disclosing perhaps, a pair of new gloves or a bright ribbon. 

No comments:

Post a Comment