Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter 2010 in Belgium/France

Happy Easter everyone! Today in France and Belgium it is Easter Monday It is a big holiday with everything closed and everyone still celebrating and so even if I'm a day late in posting, according to France and Belgium I'm still okay. We spent a wonderful day yesterday going to church and listening to conference. After the priesthood session we had a traditional "chili" dinner with the missionaries. They wanted to make chili and that was fine with us. They begged me to make lepyoshki again and I was happy to do it. Sister Kohler and Sister Pobst came early to help me fry them all up. We had a lot of fun cooking and talking and laughing together. The missionaries also brought desserts and quiche. After eating we watched more of conference which we all just loved. In the evening Dh and I watched 2 more sessions staying up until midnight to watch the last live broadcast.

I was remembering my Easter's past and had a great walk down memory lane.

When I was young and at home with my parents we always had the traditional Russian Easter celebration. Many times it was on a day different from Easter in America because the Russians use the old Gregorian calender and the dates do not always coincide although close together. Anyway, we always went to church at midnight after a long lent. After church, families and friends got together at someones house and had a "break the fast" dinner. The table was always laden with lots of wonderful things to eat: ham, sliced turkey, pirogi of many varieties filled with beef, fish, mushrooms,or cabbage piroshki, piroshki, the little version of the pirog, zakuski (hors d'oeuvres) such as eggplant caviar, red and black caviar, herring, pickles, green beans with meat, creamed mushrooms, thinly sliced radishes in sour cream, pashtet(a liver pate), an assortment of breads, colored easter eggs, cookies of all kinds and many, many other delicious things to eat and drink. Dominating the table are Kulich, a Russian eater bread, and Paskha a creamy cottage cheese like concoction. Everyone kisses each other 3 times on the cheek as a symbol of the trinity and the first person says, "Christoc Voskrese" Christ has risen. The person receiving the greeting responds with "Voesteno Voskresi" Truly He is risen. After going to bed reeeeeaaaallyl late, everyone gets up early for the big day. Of course the week before Easter all of the housewives have been busy sprucing up their homes, polishing everything, washing windows, cleaning every nook and cranny and cooking, cooking, cooking. On Easter day it is the custom for the ladies to stay home and hold an open house while the men and boys make the rounds visiting everyone. At each home they find that same laden table and they greet each other, visit and eat. In the evening friends and family gather at someones house and continue the celebration. I guess you can imagine how happy and excited the teen-aged girls were to welcome the visiting boy. Of course that is because you can have a kiss and it is alright.:)


The Russians are well know for their beautiful Easter eggs. Faberge made some of the most exquisite ones for the Tsarina and Tsar. Some eggs are made of wood and lavishly decorated. Others are enameled in intricate geometric patterns with red and yellow being the predominant color. Some are delicate , fragile eggs which have had the contents blown out. Many of these are decorated with lovely pastel flowers. some are painted, jeweled or sequined. Many of them were unfortunately destroyed during the revolution, but there are still many that are displayed in museums.









When I think of Easter I always think of beautiful flowers everywhere and especially Easter Lillies, which we always had at home. I think of bunnies and of course chocolates.










This is a picture of several kulichi. These are the traditional Russian Easter bread (cake). The Kulich is a sweet bread studded with glazed fruit and has a bit of a coffee cake texture. It is tall with a rounded top that symbolized the onion-shaped dome of a Russian church. It is traditionally decorated with sprinkles, candy roses, chickens, and bunnies. Almost always there is a big XB written in icing on the side. X is the equivalent in the Cyrillic alphabet of the Roman Ch and B is the equivalent of the V. Thus these 2 initials stand for Christos Voskrese.








The next 2 pictures are of Paskha(easter). The traditional paskha is shaped in a pyramid. It is made in a special mold. Some of these molds are wooden and have been passed down from generation to generation. Now there are plastic ones. Again each one is decorated with an XB.


To a Russian, it just isn't Easter without a slice of Kulich and an accompanying side of Paskha.










When I got married and had children of my own we added the tradition of the Easter Basket and hunting for Easter eggs.





I had to include this picture of my little G in this year's Easter Egg hunt. She is the one in the
blue dress with the white shirt.



















One of our sons M raised labs. He had them soooo well trained. His original dog, Cleo, was one the best dogs ever. She always participated in the Easter egg hunt. She would find the well hidden eggs and carefully bring them to her little pile. She never broke a shell and she was always the winner.











When I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I had to change my way of life and go against hundreds of years of tradition. It was a bit of a scary choice for me and I was nervous to proceed. But, I knew that the gospel was true. I had fasted and received a very sacred, spiritual experience which gave me a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and of this church. I know that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God and that He lives. I know that God lives. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the Lord with the charge of restoring His (Jesus Christ) church in these last days. I know that we have a living prophet today who's charge is to guide and to lead the people of the Lord. The moment I came out of the waters of baptism, I knew that I had made the right choice. I knew that I was a new person ready to go forth and to do good. I knew that the Lord was pleased.

I know that the real meaning of Easter is not the beautiful traditions or fun customs. It is not about partying or giving each other chocolate eggs. I know that it is a remembrance and a celebration of our Lord Jesus Christ and His great sacrifice in our behalf. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and I want always to serve Him. I am soo grateful to Him for all of my many, many blessings. I want all of my children and grandchildren and great-grands and on and on to know that I love Jesus Christ with every fiber of my being and that I know, without a doubt, that every sacrifice we have to make for the Lord is worth it. Having eternal life with Him will be the reward for listening to His words and doing His works.

5 comments:

Shuldberg's in Texas said...

Beautiful testimoney!!
Thank you for sharing.

Yvonne said...

I'm so glad you were able to hear and enjoy Conference.

Lovely to read about all your traditions.

You have such a beautiful testimony--expressed in writing and in action.

Connie said...

Such fun traditions and memories of your childhood Easters!
Thank you for sharing your testimony. The thought of giving up so much to become a member of the church, is something I have thought about before. It must have been hard initially, but sounds like you have your priorities straight and a strong testimony of Christ and his restored gospel.
Thank-you for being a missionary in every aspect!
Love ya!

allison nadauld said...

I have really enjoyed reading these posts, especially your personal history. What a treasure. Thanks for sharing.

Tori said...

Natalie,

Thank you so much for sharing your life stories and testimony with us. I love to read them and I know that your grands and great-grands will appreciate the record you are creating for them.