Coming to Australia distanced us from our family in Turkey, but we were lucky because we weren’t the only families to immigrate here. Over time my parents acquainted themselves with the Assyrian Orthodox and Armenian communities, from which I now have some very good and very close friends. No matter how alien I felt at school, I always had my community friends – so I was never alone. There was always some place I belonged. For that, I am forever grateful.
My parents were social beings, eager to spend as much time with the small group of friends and family from back home as possible. We had huge Christmas and Easter dinner parties and gatherings that went until all hours. The deal was, everyone had to visit everyone else’s home during special religious occasions. The elder members of the community were to be visited first.
The tireless hours of work my mother and aunty used to put into preparing for Easter was astounding. I understand and appreciate it more now than I did as a child. Everything had to be perfect. Food and drinks were offered and presented in a given order. Coffee, then liqueur and chocolates. Seeds and nuts with soft drinks or alcohol, followed by cakes and dyed Easter eggs. Every year we had an Easter Egg Cracking competition. Boiled and dyed Easter eggs were distributed to everyone, and each person challenged another to a ‘duel’. One person would hold their egg tightly in their hand with only the very tip exposed. The challenger would whack the tip of theirs against it. The winning egg would be the one that didn’t crack. That egg would go on to challenge another, while the loser would get eaten. It was soooo exciting and so much fun. We received chocolate Easter eggs too, but they paled in comparison to the eggs we could duel with.