This week we mark the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, when the hours of light and the hours of darkness are approximately equal. Such occasions were important in pagan societies, and today the Spring Equinox is known by Wiccans as Ostara (O-STAR-uh), one of their minor Sabbats (festivals).
The name of the festival comes from the Teuton lunar goddess Eostre, whose chief totems were the rabbit, noted for fertility, and the egg, a symbol of creation and rebirth. (Can you say “Easter bunny” and “Easter egg”?)
Eggs are important in many faiths, and they play an important part in the spring religious festivals of two major religions, Judaism and Christianity.
A roasted egg is one of the foods on the Passover seder plate. Jewish scholars will say the egg represents the sacrifices made at the Temple in Jerusalem, and that because hard-boiled eggs are traditionally the first food served to mourners after a funeral, the egg symbolizes mourning for the Temple’s loss. But no one will convince me that there’s no connection to our pagan past.
Similarly, Christians may have adopted use of hard-boiled eggs from their Jewish forebears. The Last Supper was a Passover seder, and early Christians may have wanted to preserve some of its symbols. Or it may have come directly from ancient pagan practices, many of which were co-opted into Christianity. Eventually the egg, a symbol of renewing life, began to be associated with the resurrection of Jesus.
Whatever meaning you want to assign to eggs, the Spring Equinox this week seemed like a good excuse for providing an eggy recipe.
This Russian Tart is also vegetarian so it’s a good one for those refraining from meat during Lent. It’s a bit of a to-do to make, and the ingredients may strike you as a little odd, but it’s worth the bother.
There’s quite a lot of filling, so be sure to use a large and deep pie plate for the baking.