Is there a day more filled with joy than Easter? Christ is risen and we are saved. The time of darkness is over, and even the birds and flowers rejoice as God smiles on His people. Celebrate this joyous day of rebirth with family and friends around a beautiful table.
Plan an Easter brunch featuring delicate paper bluebirds and other songbirds and charming baskets you make ahead of time using our patterns. Songbirds are harbingers of spring and symbolize happiness, fulfillment and hope—the very essense of the Easter message.
Other elements to consider adding to the celebration might include spring flowers, Easter eggs and white linens. A garden flower arrangement, whether large or small, brings the season’s new life to the table. Create a centerpiece the day before Easter. This garden flower arrangement with a bounty of blooms is perfect for the gardener. For a smaller arrangement, consider a few white tulips or even a pretty bowl of lettuce leaves piled with colored Easter eggs.
Look for ways to add symbols of Easter or elements from God’s creation to your table, see page 66. Prepare a simple yet sumptuous meal. Then gather everyone together to celebrate the Good News.
Handcrafted paper bluebirds fly above the table and light in the bouquet of spring flowers and on footed candy dishes as a symbol of the hope of Easter and the promise of spring. Tulips and other spring flowers represent the joyous renewal of life after the darkness of winter.
The Easter Buffet
Create an Easter parade by serving food on a buffet. Guests can move through at their leisure or go back for seconds without interrupting conversations, and it’s easier for little ones and older guests to handle just one plate instead of passing hot, heavy serving dishes. Placing the food on a buffet also keeps the dinner table from being cluttered and allows for easy clean up.
Choose a single color for serving dishes or mix two closely related shades so the buffet looks unified and the food stands out. Our buffet features white serving dishes of all shapes and sizes. The neutral color lets the food take center stage. Using covered dishes helps keep the food warm in case guests linger too long before dining or wait a while to go back for seconds. Many of these are old family pieces. Shop at second-hand shops and dishware stores to expand your collection.
Take a tip from photo stylists and design your buffet so the foods are displayed at different heights. This adds interest and lets each food stand out, making it easier for guests to make choices. Use footed bowls, tiered servers and cake plates or place trays and bowls on risers made from wood blocks or sturdy cardboard boxes covered with cloths to vary the serving height
Easter morning is usually busy as everyone gets ready for church. Make projects and food ahead. Set the table the day before, gather chairs and create a centerpiece using fresh greens or floral arrangements. Prepare the buffet and place empty, clean serving dishes on the buffet with a slip of paper in each telling what food goes inside so they are ready to be filled by you or your helpers. Write out a checklist of the times foods need to be in the oven, slow cooker or roaster and when they should be pulled from the freezer to thaw.
Make it Easy
With all the easy-to-fix and make-ahead foods and recipes available today, there’s no need for the family cook to miss Easter sunrise service or spend all morning fretting about what still needs to be done. With good planning and shared duties, you can enjoy your worship time knowing that dinner will all but prepare itself.
Make it Ahead
Look for casseroles and desserts that can be made one or more days ahead. Party Potatoes, opposite far right, like vegetable casseroles, breads and most desserts can be made ahead and served when everyone returns from church. Frozen Fruit Cups, opposite top left, can wait in the freezer until the buffet is set. Freeze the mix in plastic disposable cups and serve them as is or scoop the slightly thawed slush into glasses.
Don’t forget that catering establishments offer a plethora of delicious side dishes. There’s no need to stress over the details of the day when help is just a phone call or a quick stop away.
Make it Fast
Today’s grocery stores are stocked with gourmet and everyday foods that are easy to cook. Mini Quiches, opposite bottom right, can be made from scratch using our delicious recipe, but you can also find mini shells and quiche mix or purchase frozen quiches that simply need to be baked. Precooked smoked ham, the feature entree at many Easter dinners, takes a short time to prepare when sliced thick by the butcher. Then you can grill or brown the slices in a pan. Some even come with a glaze that you pour on as the ham warms.
Bakeries and candy shops offer beautiful desserts, and they often have access to fresher ingredients than what’s available at the store. To satisfy family members with a sweet tooth, make exquisite bite-sized treats such as White Chocolate and Coconut Marshmallows, opposite bottom left, created using store bought homemade marshmallows and white chocolate melted in the microwave. Raspberry Chocolate Tarts, opposite top right, are another easy treat made from ready baked shells. The strawberries served alongside are also dipped in chocolate that’s been warmed in the microwave.
The Symbols of Easter
Easter is one of the most symbolic Christian celebrations, taking cues from the story of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, as well as the ancient traditions of spring.
Easter Egg: An oval egg is the same shape as a raindrop or seed—all important life-giving elements. Persians and Egyptians believed the world began with a single egg. The Persians decorated eggs with bright colors for their New Year’s celebration which fell on the Spring Equinox. The egg later became a symbol of the tomb from which Christ emerged. The baby chick inside the egg represents how new life can break free from darkness.
Candles: The flickering light of a candle is symbolic of the light of Christ coming into the world. The idea of burning flames to usher in spring first began with the Celts. They believed evil spirits captured the sun during the winter, so each spring they lit bonfires to encourage the spirits to release the sun. Because the light of Christ illuminates the darkness, places such as Germany and Belgium still burn bonfires today in celebration of Easter.
Easter Lilies: These flowers bloom naturally in late spring. The lily was brought to the U.S. from Bermuda in 1882. It became a reminder of the purity of Christ and the chasteness of the Virgin Mary.
The Cross: The cross was a well known symbol before the time of Christ. It was used to mark buildings and tombstones and as an ornamental emblem displayed on clothing. But after Jesus was crucified, the cross became the foremost symbol of his death and Resurrection. At the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, the emperor Constantine issued a decree that the cross was the official symbol of Christianity.
Palms: Ancient Romans welcomed royalty by waving palm branches. Jesus was greeted as royalty when He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Today we display palm branches in remembrance of His triumphant entry into the city.
Lambs: Lambs were the traditional sacrificial offering for ancient Hebrews. When Jesus died, He gave himself as an offering to God for the sins of the world. Early Christians began relating the Hebrew symbol of sacrifice to Jesus, calling Him the “Lamb of God.” At Easter, a lamb is used both symbolically and as a customary food.
Rabbits (the Easter Bunny): Rabbits were the favorite animal of the spring goddess Eastre. The animal symbolized fertility and new life in ancient Egypt. Likewise, early Christians came to view rabbits as a symbol of new life in Christ.
The Easter Bunny is based on an old German legend: A poor woman decorated some eggs during a time of famine and hid them in the grass outside for her children to stumble upon. When the children finally found the eggs, they saw a rabbit hopping away from the spot and assumed the rabbit had left the eggs. German immigrants brought this idea of an egg-laying bunny to the United States in the 18th century and it’s been popular ever since.
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