Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pysanky and Figolli

Colorful Ukranian pysanky Easter eggs
Just as Christmas has its special food, like puddings, mince pies, cookies and fruitcake, so does Easter, and in particular, I refer to two places where these special treats are so popular that they deserve a special mention today, the vigil of Easter. I’m referring to Ukraine and its Pysnaky eggs and Malta with its figolli.

The word pysanka (plural pysanky) refers specifically to an egg decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk designs. Artists go into incredible detail as they decorate these eggs with beautiful colored designs, each color is symbolic of a virtue or a positive trait. With the advent of Christianity, the symbolism of the egg was changed to represent, not nature's rebirth, but the rebirth of man. Christians embraced the egg symbol and likened it to the tomb from which Christ rose. With the acceptance of Christianity in 988, the decorated pysanka, in time, was adapted to play an important role in Ukrainian rituals of the new religion. Many symbols of the old sun worship survived and were adapted to represent Easter and Christ's Resurrection.
Maltese figolli
The Maltese figolli are popular treats made from 2 sheets of dough, filled with almond paste, but the dough is usually cut in shapes of hearts, baskets, rabbits, bears, butterflies, shapes of children or anything imaginative. A chocolate egg is placed on top, after the shape is covered with icing and decorated like any other cake.
Holy Thursday bread
Another popular treat in Malta is the Holy Thursday bread, made like a donut shape with almonds and sesame seeds. They are traditionally given to the 12 men or children whose feet are washed at the evening Mass, but many people buy these loaves, have them blessed and enjoy them on Holy Thursday. They are of course very crusty on the outside and fresh on the inside.

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