Easter Celebrations Jelly Bean Hunts
Easter takes place on April 21 this year, and it has me thinking about how my family celebrated the holiday when I was a kid compared to how we celebrate it now. Most of my family’s Easter traditions revolve around food, and it all starts with jelly beans. Instead of having Easter egg hunts when we were younger, my sister and I had jelly bean hunts. This tradition started with my mom growing up in Alaska. Because they couldn’t go outside in the snow to hunt for Easter eggs, and my grandparents didn’t want eggs rotting all over the house, they decided to use the next best thing: jelly beans. This tradition of jelly bean hunting continued into my childhood as well. My dad did most of the hiding and became really involved in the tradition. It was almost like having Christmas again. We’d go to the very edge of the room, stand there, and look around to try and figure out where most of them were. We waited for them to say “go” and then it was a race to gather as much as possible before they were all gone. Dad hid them all over the house; sometimes in really obvious places. But as we got older, he got more and more crafty. He started to color coordinate where he placed them. We had this black wrought iron lamp in the house that had a curl, and one year he put a black one at the very end of that curl. We really had to look closely to find it. My sister and I competed to get the most, but we never officially declared a winner — even though it was usually me. Sometimes there were ones that we couldn’t find, and dad didn’t always remember where he hid them all. For months afterward, jelly beans popped up in odd places. “Instead of having Easter egg hunts when we were younger, my sister and I had jelly bean hunts.”
Neither my sister nor I really liked jelly beans, so my dad ended up eating all the ones we found — or at least the black licorice ones. When I had my daughters, Wendy and I tried to carry on the tradition, but it never caught on. Wendy doesn’t like jelly beans either, and we decided not to do it, since the girls also wouldn’t eat them. Instead, we hide plastic eggs. They won’t go nasty like hard-boiled Easter eggs, and we can fill them up with candy the whole family likes. We also have family traditions fromWendy’s side. Her mother’s family is Polish/Ukrainian, and she grew up with different traditions than I did. Some took a little getting used to, but I’ve grown to enjoy a lot of them. There’s a few I haven’t gotten into quite yet, such as hulupki. This is a traditional dish where cabbage leaves are wrapped around a mixture of rice, bacon, and onion; put into a casserole dish; covered with V8; then baked in the oven. Her family also enjoys making nalesniki, which is like a crepe filled with cheese or apple filling. They also make pierogi, which is like a cheese and potato filled dumpling.
Wendy’s parents will make all this food the Saturday before Easter, and we usually send over our girls to help out. Each of them has their own job when it comes to cooking. Someone will make the apple filling to go into the nalesniki, another will be in charge of making the thin pancakes, and the last will roll them all together. It’s a great family project for them. Every Easter, I look forward to sitting down with my family after church, spending some quality time with them around the dinner table, and watching them find the plastic eggs hiding around the house.
No matter what your family traditions are, I hope you all have a wonderful Easter.
-All the best, Aaron Miller
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