Since I arrived to the States I have been trying to understand the Easter Celebrations here, at home we did not use to have egg hunts or even the extra candy consumption.
Pascua growing up was a more ritualistic or religious celebration. It started on Palm Sunday when during Mass the Catholic Priest would bless the palms we bought from the lady on the street, We would take them home and hang them on the inside of our doors, to scare away evil spirits.
I remember visiting 12 Catholic churches on the evening of Maundy Thursday, Latin America calls it Jueves Santo. We would just eat dishes without red meats from Thursday to Resurrection Sunday (Domingo de Resurreccion). After my parents became Christians, we started to focus more on the meaning of the Pascua than in the rituals practiced by the Catholic church. My dad still liked to cook the traditional meals though.
When I came here,during Easter I saw myself lost in eggs, bunnies, candy and attending to church on Resurrection Sunday. My husband is a very serious Christian man, so he never really let the excitement of the season get into my kids, instead we tried to focus the most important meaning, Jesus Resurretion and the eternal life He gives to those who accept Him. We did not really need to avoid egg hunts and candy, the invitations and candy came anyway.
This year I decided to dig into history and tradition around the world, I asked people that live in different countries, I read the Bible, I surfed the internet and went to my favorite place, the library.
The Passover celebrates the end of slavery for Israel, when Moses led Israel out of Egypt to the promise land. We are not Jews but we believe in the Bible inspired by God, so we read Exodus 12 that narrates the story.
We followed the SB Seder placemats idea (thank you Lisa), that describes the dishes served in a Passover meal. I was going to cook some lamb the next day but the kids were so anxious about using them that we had to replace the lamb for chicken and the horse radish for radishes. (That was the kids idea.)
My little girl also wanted to do more of a flower shape placemat, idea that was very welcomed by the group.
Somehow, studying Jewish traditions brought light to Christianity and gave a great start to a perfect Easter celebration.
About Easter in the States
The book I liked the best was An Easter Celebration, by Pamela Kennedy.
This is by far one of the most descriptive books for children, it tells Easter traditions through history and allows the reader to understand why the United States celebrates Easter the way we do. It also helped me to understand how eggs, bunnies and the type of plants during a Christ Living celebration come together.
Did you know that,
- Pascua comes from the Hebrew word Pesach (Passover).
- England would celebrate Vernal Equinox (Eostre) honoring Goddess of Spring.
- Early Christians called it Easter to be able to spread Christianity in England
- An egg would resemble life giving during Easter because of its shape (seed and a rain drop).
- Early Christians would use the Egg as a symbol of the stone tomb from which Christ rose.
- Egg was a life giving symbol with Persians, Phoenicians, Hindus, Egyptians, Chinese, Greek, Romans and more cultures.
- In Europe people used to give decorated eggs as a present during Easter time.
- Early American children would dye eggs using bark, cherries and leaves.
- In Ancient times a bonfire was used to scare the evil spirits (winter) when the warmer season started.
- Christians used the Fire as a symbol of light coming to world through Christ.
- For Romans the Cross was a symbol of dead, for Christians the Cross became a symbol of life since Christ overcome dead.
- About the bunny, in Greece the heir was a symbol of new life.
- Christians connected the heir, that in America became a Rabbit, as a symbol of New Life in Christ.
- There is a German old story that tells that the heir would live decorated eggs for kids, so kids would fixed nest for the heir to live them eggs.
- Christians see Jesus as the Lamb who sacrificed himself on the Cross.
- Palms were used in Rome to great Kings and Jesus was greated with Palms the Sunday before the Passover.
Suddenly, all the American traditions during Pascua, made sense to me. And encourage me to teach the kids the real meaning of Easter and not let the market define our traditions and truths about history and faith..
So the goals for the season are:
- Celebrate Passover, which we already did.
- Cook Traditional food from home, not 12 dishes though, perhaps 2 or 3.
- Read the Bible. as we remember Jesus sacrifice for us.
- Understand the meaning of bunnies, eggs, and new clothes (which they do not necessarily get on Easter). We painted some eggs today, just for fun.
- I want to organize an egg treasure hunt, with messages in Español that direct to a real treasure. Practicing Spanish reading skills, he he.
- We will attend to church as we always do, but this time will be special, because we will celebrate to whom loved us first, Jesus.
This is a picture of how my 6 year old sees Easter and Palm Sunday, he says Easter is about the Resurrection of Christ and instead of the Cross is the Palm as a symbol of worshiping The King of Kings.