From the left to right: Aida Skirmantaite, Ausra Skirmantiene, Arnas Skirmantas and Cookie at the Easter dinner table
Come Easter dining with the Skirmantai family
aster is a time for family gathering and celebrating the resurrection of Christ. But for the Skirmantai family, it’s more than that. For over seven years the Lithuanian family have been trying to keep the Lithuanian traditions alive, far away from home. Although Ausra Skirmantiene (42) and her two children Aida Skirmantaite (21), Arnas Skirmantas (13) and their pet cat Cookie love living in Ireland and do enjoy Irish traditions, they believe that they cannot forget their own traditions, especially living in a different country, away from family. “I think that wherever you go,
you have to bring your traditions with you,” says Ausra Skirmantiene. Every Easter, Aida Skirmantaite catches a bus from Dublin back to Monaghan to visit her mother and brother and to celebrate their Easter traditions. “I’m so glad that we can still celebrate Easter together,” says Ausra. “Celebrations like these are really just a great way for families to bond and to catch up on lost time.” Lithuanian Easter traditions are quite different from Irish. While the Irish families celebrate the Easter Sunday with a big dinner and boxes of chocolate treats for the
22 / LIFE / Sunday Independent / 20 April 2014
little ones, Lithuanian families come together on Holy Saturday to prepare for the feast on Holy Sunday and to paint and colour Easter eggs, called margučiai.
Left: Ausra and Arnas playing the “egg-clinking” game. Above: Arnas won! Ausra shows her broken egg.
Usually, the Easter Sunday begins with the whole family going to the Church and then returning home to have breakfast, which starts with eating the coloured eggs. But before you start sharing the eggs with your family, everyone plays the “egg-clinking” game: two people each hold an egg in their hands, with just the tip of the egg exposed. They hit the tips of the eggs against each other until one of them breaks. First to break loses and if your shell remains unbroken, you are destined to have a long life! The broken eggs can then be eaten on toast and shared around the table as a sign of unity. Arnas remembers when he was little, he used to play another Easter game: Egg Rolling. When he was little, his granddad used to put a small wooden slide to propel eggs onto grass or carpet. If you didn’t finish eating all the broken eggs from the “egg-clinking”, you can use them in this game. Once an egg stops on the grass, the next player tries to hit it with another egg, and wins the last player’s egg. Player with the most eggs wins! “I don’t really play that anymore though, it’s only a lot of fun when you’re a little kid,” says Arnas. The dinner table is prepared by the whole family putting a lot of effort into each dish. After the meal, the Skirmantai call their family back in Lithuania on Skype to talk about the celebrations and to show off the decorated eggs, or what is left of them by now. “It’s not the same as having the whole family here with us, but it’s still nice to talk with the kids’ Grandparents and see how their Easter celebrations are going back in Lithuania,” says Ausra.
How to make your own beautiful Easter eggs: Ausra teaches us the two different methods of painting Easter eggs: the “wax-resistant” method and colouring eggs with greens. The first thing to do is to prepare the eggs. Boil a batch of eggs for about 10 minutes and let them cool off on the counter. You will also need to prepare bowls with food colouring (separate bowls for each colour). When the eggs are nice and cool, gather up any types of greens and leaves, onion peels and don’t forget a sock and thread to secure the loose leaves. Put the egg into a sock and stuff it with all the greens, the more the better! Secure the loose bits by stretching out the sock and tying up the end with a thread.
Using the wax-resistant method, you will need beeswax, a pin (easier to attach it to a rubber part of the pencil) and a pencil to sketch out the drawing that you will later go over with the hot wax. Heat the wax over a candle, dip your pin-pen into it and draw over the previous sketches. Try to work fast as the wax dries very quickly!
When the eggs are wrapped up and drawn on with wax, go ahead and place them carefully into the food colouring. For the wrapped up eggs, you will need to leave the eggs in hot water for 5 minutes. Do not put eggs with wax ornaments into hot water as this way the wax will peel off. Because you are not using hot water, you will have to leave these eggs in food colouring for a little longer. When the eggs have reached the desirable colour, remove them from the bowl and wait until they cool down. You can then remove the sock and greens to reveal the beautifully decorated eggs. You can also remove the wax ornaments with a cotton pad and some warm water.
20 April 2014 / Sunday Independent / LIFE / 23
For the Photojournalism module, we were required to produce a photo essay which would be featured in a magazine or newspaper of our choice....