Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Easter in Helsinki

Aunt Päivi and me
I'm a little late getting these photos out, but better late than never!  This year when I woke up at 6am on Easter morning to warm rays from a sun already quite high in the sky, I stayed in bed for a few minutes, thinking about all my Easter memories from years past. It's been quite a while since I dyed eggs with my brothers and sisters, or unwrapped one of the giant Easter baskets my Grambo always makes for us.  Laden with creme-filled chocolate eggs and big chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, tangerines, and little toys, I remember rounding up all the colored eggs we could find and then munching on chocolate to my heart's content.  That was, of course, after eating chocolate-covered donuts for breakfast.  But my parents were great about it and let us take in all the sugar we wanted on Easter.

In 2007 I was living in Belgium and went on Easter vacation with my host family to Montpellier in southern France. My parents came and met us there, and then I left with them on what became an epic European road trip.  The three of us spent Easter Sunday in downtown Florence -- a day I'll never forget!  I wish I had the pictures with me now so I could give you a taste of the festive mayhem that unfolded in the Piazza del Duomo.   Think white bulls decked out in ribbons and flowery wreaths; a giant wooden hutch that spewed smoke, fireworks and white doves when the doors opened; every inch of the piazza covered with people and then even more hanging out of windows and off buildings surrounding the square; brightly colored medieval costumes on jolly, dancing, singing, Italian men; a midget with an accordion who kissed my mom and me when I put a coin in his cup; going back at night to my favorite gelato dealer for what would be my fifth and final serving for the day....now THAT was an Easter to behold.


Making lunch!
In 2008 I was in South Australia, living with my Aunt and Uncle for three months and helping out at their restaurant. We made Easter brunch at the restaurant - the Vuja De Clubhouse Restaurant - on the main strip of a historic little German tourist town called Hahndorf, in the hills above the city of Adelaide. It was autumn in Australia, and a beautiful day. We walked to a little chocolatier down the street for coffee and pastries, and bought flowers from our friend who owned the adorable flower shop across the street. My Aunt Lisa made a beautiful roast lamb and sweet potato dish, and we had a wonderful Easter brunch with good friends and neighbors.

I spent Easter 2009 in Nashville, with one of my best friends from childhood, Anna.  She came out to visit her Aunt in Nashville and it was a perfect opportunity to catch up. I hadn't seen her in years, as we'd both spent much of the past few years overseas in different places. I met up with them after church, and Anna made a delicious tofu curry for lunch.  Then we took a long walk around one of the little lakes nearby. The weather was also great there!
Maya and her Mom on the terrace

Last year I was in Nashville again at Easter; my cousin Kelsey had also moved to Nashville to attend Belmont and so we made dinner together at a friend's house and invited a ton of people over. It felt so good to be in charge of preparing a meal and throwing a party, and to have it go so well!  We spent the whole afternoon with our good friends -- taking a walk and then watching movies together.  I think every young person experiences a little anxiety when, for the first time, they're away from family and older people who have established traditions. It's an exciting time when we get to decide what kind of traditions we want to establish for ourselves and our eventual family, but it can also be a little intimidating.  What should we do? With who?  How to organize it?  Easter 2010 was definitely a test drive, but it went really well! And it was especially nice that my cousin and I had each other there, so together we collected recipes from our mom's and went shopping, and did all of that preparatory work and cooking together that is really meant to be done with family.

mmmm.....look at all that yummy mozzarella!



Maya, with her 4th chocolate egg
A Finnish Easter food called  mämmi

This year, I was with a different cousin! Maya and I had only met twice before I arrived here in Finland.  She's lived here in Finland all her life and I only found out about her three years ago! We're rather distantly related (like "3rd cousins twice removed" or something), but we claim cousin status all the same. Since then, we've seen each other twice at family Christmas parties.  We were born only three months apart and somehow have very similar tastes and personalities despite growing up on different continents; we hit it off immediately!  It's been so much fun staying with her here in Helsinki and getting to know her better.  We had Easter lunch with her mom, Päivi, and then spent the afternoon laying around in the sun and talking.  Maya and I went for a walk that evening and had coffee at one of our favorite cafes by the sea.  Another perfect Easter!

Pretending to try mämmi, a sort of
rye paste that I'm allergic to.

I love these porcelain coffee cups that are made to look like
paper cups that have been crunched in. Hehe. Mind boggling.
Päivi and Maya got them in Paris.
We faked this photo in IKEA so that we could capture the freakiest looking Easter Bunny either of us has
ever seen....just look over my left shoulder!
A view of the Gulf of Finland - photos I took on Easter during our evening walk.
Kaivopuisto Park - one of my favorite places on a warm day.  The gulf is immediately on the other side of this
hill, and the view from the top is spectacular!

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