Orthodox Easter Family Tradition – Egg Holder


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My mom moved to America from Bulgaria when she was in her 20s, although she doesn’t always like people knowing that. She tried to raise me in a way she felt was most American, beginning with my very English-sounding name, hoping it would make it easier for me to fit in. Despite her best efforts, I never used to feel like I was truly from here. 

But I didn’t feel particularly Bulgarian, either, because I knew virtually nothing about the culture. And, linguistically, I was capable of very little aside from holding a stilted conversation. For most of my life, I’ve felt untethered, like my self-concept was missing an important piece. Sometimes, though, my mom would casually introduce me to things: a tradition, food, or cultural fact, like she momentarily forgot her desire to assimilate. I would always cling to the information like Saran Wrap, greedy for something to grab onto. An example that really sticks out to me: the single-egg holders I now associate with Orthodox Easter. 

To be clear, these egg holders aren’t really an Orthodox Easter thing. They’re a way my mom combines what she interprets to be American culture with her own, and she uses them exclusively for our traditional egg fights.

Egg fights have always been my favorite part of Easter. You essentially tap both sides of your painted Easter egg against an opponent’s egg, and that winning egg faces another opponent, and so on. Whoever is holding an uncracked egg by the end of the competition has a year of health and luck.

Once a winner was found, my mom would always put the lucky egg in a single, porcelain holder — one with a basket and a little, white Easter bunny (a symbol that absolutely does not exist in Bulgaria). This egg sits (in its holder) in our China cabinet for a year. Yes, a year! And then it gets removed from the egg holder and buried in our front lawn, a ritual of protection for our house and symbol of Jesus’ burial and resurrection. 

Shop for similar egg holders on eBay and Etsy.

The egg holder, the lucky egg, and the burial ritual have been highlights of my year for as long as I can remember. They represent the mix of cultures that once made me feel unsure of my identity. These days, instead of feeling uncertain, being in between American and Bulgarian culture makes me feel proud of my unique sense of tradition and the huge groups of people I’m connected to — including Bulgarians and American immigrants and their children who spend their lives figuring out what “tradition” means to them.

To this day, my mom uses the same single-egg holder for our lucky eggs. Seeing it reminds me to appreciate each new year of luck, the rich Bulgarian history I’m always tethered to, and the new history I try to create as a first-generation American.

Do you have an Orthodox Easter tradition? Tell us about it in the comments!

Ashley Bardhan

Contributor

Ashley Bardhan is a writer in New York who writes about entertainment, food, sex, and other things that people like.





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