The Easter bunny and Easter eggs originated as German customs. However, my family members didn’t try to convince me that rabbits lay eggs. I knew enough about rabbits and birds that I wouldn’t fall for this bit of folklore no matter how German it might be.
When I was a little guy, I was told the Easter bunny dyed the eggs and gave them to my family members to hide after I had gone to sleep on the Saturday night before Easter Sunday.
After I was 5 years old, I knew that my mother and grandmother dyed the eggs and then gave three eggs apiece to family members to hide. I went along with the game because it was fun for them and for me.
The adults took their eggs and hid them anywhere and everywhere on the first floor of our house. The exception was that one egg was always placed in one of my shoes.
When we came home from the early church service on Easter Sunday, the hunt was on for me.
I was allowed a half-hour to find all 18 eggs, and when I searched, I found eggs in drawers, under furniture, under cushions, in potted plants, and even in the fireplace.
I needed all of the time given to me, but I was always able to find all of the eggs.
By the time I was 8 years old, though, the egg hunts stopped because my family members felt I was too old to pursue this tradition.
I agreed with them even though hunting the eggs was a lark.
I don’t think my grandfather was too fond of the tradition because he believed the Easter bunny was a questionable character. In fact, he would often refer to an unreliable person as an Osterhase [Easter rabbit].
Spring vacation from school started on Good Friday and continued through Easter Week. The day after Easter was called Zweite Ostern [second Easter] and was a day when many older people and young children spent the day visiting friends and relatives.
On the Monday after Easter, the men in our home returned to their respective jobs, so we made our visitations on Monday after supper.
We always saw my great aunt and uncle — Jane and Jack Keenan — who lived in an apartment on Oak Street in the city on a rotating basis. That is, one year we would go to their home, and the next year they would visit us in Oak Park. This practice continued until Jane and Jack moved to Cape Cod in 1951.
When my uncle Hubert married in 1952 and moved to Rogers Park in the city, we followed the same visitation routine as we had done with Jane and Jack.
In 1956, our family decided to discontinue the visits, so this tradition, just like the Easter egg hunts, disappeared from our lives.
Even though I liked hunting the eggs, the best part came when I ate the brightly colored eggs over a two week period. Believe me, those eggs tasted better than any eggs I have eaten since that time.