Sunday, April 7, 2013

Happy Easter/ Passover/ Persian New Year!

Happy Easter everyone! And Passover. And Persian New Year. Yeah, all of that. I really love this time of year, starting with daylight savings and going all the way through to Sizdah bedar. Um, yeah, maybe I should back up a bit and explain some things.

You know how this country is called a melting pot? Well, I got your melting pot right here, baby. My mom is Jewish, family's been here for a couple of generations but before that they were from Russia. My dad is Muslim, born in Tehran, Iran - although he's been an American citizen four times longer than he was an Iranian one. I married a Christian - although I'm not sure what kind of Christian, since Rob doesn't practice, so I know it's not Catholic and that's about it. His father's family is mostly Sicilian and his mother's is mostly Cherokee. So the boys are straight up everything. They truly are the "other" choice in that optional part of a survey where I warily check off "Caucasian" if for no other reason than "other" seems more like "nothing" to me.

So, this time of year, we celebrate Passover by going to our Jersey relatives and eating a fabulous meal - Gefilte fish, Matzoh Ball soup, Lamb and Brisket - hells yeah! We read a couple passages from some Passover pamphlet that reviews the "cool parts" (my opinion) of the Old Testament - you know: mean-old Pharaoh in Egypt, let-my-people-go Moses, the plagues ending with the killing of the first born, the mad dash through the parted red sea - that cool stuff. We at the "cool table" (the second generation) generally crack obnoxious jokes and drink copious amounts of wine through the whole thing and chime in mostly to sing "Dy-Dyanu" at the top of our lungs. Yeah, we ain't coming from no synagogue, brother.

Around this time is also the first day of Spring, which is the Persian New Year. You know, when all of Mother Nature's plants and creatures which were dead or hibernating through the winter begin their life anew? Makes so much more sense than celebrating a new year in the dead of winter, don't it?

Anyway, there's a lot of really awesome customs associated with that as well. The most fun one for the boys is Chaharshanbe suri (literal translation: Wednesday Feast) which the boys know as "the one where we jump over fires". The Wednesday before the first day of Spring, we set fires (usually just some twigs, accelerant & balled newspaper in large pan roasters set along the middle of the driveway) and we jump over them while reciting a rhyme that essentially says the fire will burn away all the bad from the past year and set us up fresh for all the good in the coming year. Pretty awesome - but, man, does it freak out the neighbors! :)

There's also a huge party on Nowruz (New Year) - lots of dancing, lots of drinking and a Santa-type guy named Haji Firooz that gives presents to the kiddos. And then, 13 days after the new year, there's Sizdah bedar (literal translation: Getting rid of Thirteen) where all Iranians go to the countryside - we usually go to Ridley Park - and have a picnic. It's really, really wonderful to have cultural traditions that aren't "American" and I'm very thankful that my family keeps those traditions alive. And again, the religious aspects of the culture are non-existent in our family - ain't nobody going to no Mosque over here!

Then, somewhere in the middle of all this, we do Easter. For us, Easter is about egg hunts, ham dinner and baskets of candy. Don't mean to upset the "true believers" out there, but nobody in my family is going to a church outside of a wedding - so all that's left for us on Easter is the Pagan stuff :) Speaking of which, I did ALOT of Easter egg dying with the boys this year. So much so that I'll be posting all the different techniques we tried on a second post. So, for now, I leave you with some of the Easter-themed delicacies I created this year. Happy Spring!!

Got this off pinterest. Out of a dozen eggs, these were the only two that I was able to use - no matter what I tried, I could not get the shell to peel away from the egg without massacring the white.

My most popular Easter creation - and one that I came up with on my own - is Easter Bark. I laid out Matzoh on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Then, I melted a bag of white choc chips in the microwave and poured them over top. Then I scattered jelly beans on top and put it in the fridge for a bit. Easy peasy. 

I put a can of white frosting into separate cups and used food coloring to make the different colors. I cheated this time and used a Pillsbury sugar cookie dough instead of making my own, and I free-style cut the dough into the shapes. Used some mini-choc chips and a few marshmellows as well.


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