A snowdrop white,
A fool for spring,
A bird without its wings,
A little friend,
To whom you are dear,
A loving greeting brings.
You have to guess my name,
To win this Easter game.
In the previous blog, I wrote about the Indian spring celebration of Holi. This blog describes what I believe is a purely Danish tradition of sending Easter cards without signing them.
Above is an attempt to translate one of the more common rhymes that would accompany such a letter. With a paper cutting - and perhaps a dried snowdrop flower - it would be sent to a friend or family member some time before Easter. Instead of the name, the letter was signed with a dot for every letter in the name. If the recipient could guess who sent it, s/he would get an Easter egg. If, however, the sender was not guessed by Easter Sunday, the recipient of the letter should give the sender an egg.
As you can imagine, if the verse was written by a young, unsteady hand, many grandparents, aunts, and uncles officially had a very hard time guessing who might have sent such a letter.
As you can also imagine, email and Facebook has all but killed the tradition.
While living abroad, trying to teach my children such an old tradition has been a struggle. Somehow letters postmarked in the US left few choices for the recipient and guessing would be very easy. Consequently, letters would go by the friendly, helping hands of other relatives who would put a Danish stamp on an envelope and send the letter on to the final recipient.
Alas, it has been years since we have sent or received such letters. A double pity, since Danish easter eggs are some of the best you can dream of.
I will be honest. The paper cutting illustrating this blog is not mine. It is one of the many beautiful pieces from the hands of Hans Christian Andersen, the fairy tale author, who was a veritable master of the art. You can see more of his cuttings here.
Happy spring, whichever way you celebrate it.