by Sarah Gourevitch, Greenheart Travel High School Abroad Student in Austria
This week, I had school off for Easter and enjoyed exploring Vienna a bit more and celebrating two of my favorite holidays: Passover and Easter! For Passover, I cooked Charoses and matzo ball soup and also served smoked salmon. Since Passover is about passing history down, I thought it was pretty cool that I could bring it to another part of the world. In searching for all of my ingredients, I also explored new parts of Vienna…like all the way across the city to a Jewish grocery store to find Matzo, only to discover the obvious: it was closed for Passover! It was certainly not time wasted, as I stumbled upon a wonderful little chocolate store looking for it! Passover dinner was followed by coloring Easter eggs (a very cross-cultural evening, indeed!).
A couple days later, on Easter morning, I woke up to an Easter basket in front of my door filled with more chocolate than I could eat—I’ve hardly made a dent in it so far! After thanking my host moms, I ate a small breakfast and quickly got dressed before our guests arrived. Everyone from my extended host family to our neighbors to my host brother’s piano teacher (and his dog!) gathered around our dining room table. There was so much delicious food…there were the traditional breads and spreads, some soup, as well as many desserts. My host sister and I baked a carrot cake together for the occasion. People stayed from lunch through dinner, talking and laughing and eating. The one difference I noticed between American Easter and Austrian Easter was the Easter egg tree! All the eggs we had decorated some nights ago were strung on some branches in a vase; this is one of the traditions I hope to bring back to the US!
At Easter dinner, the topic of children’s books came up in conversation and we took some out. As everyone reminisced about their favorite Austrian picture books, I started plugging away through a pile of them with my host sister. I was surprised by how much I understood! Although I’m not exactly a proficient reader quite yet, it felt nice to know that it was more than I could do two months ago.