Archive for Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Easters of yesteryear fondly recalled

March 12, 2008

It's hard for me to accept that Easter is next week. In my humble opinion, March 23 is far too early for Easter and If I had my way, Easter would be always be observed on either the first or second Sunday in April.

Next week will be particularly confusing since it includes a secular holiday, St. Patrick's Day. I suspect that fact has caused some concern on the planners of St. Pat's parades and parties. From what I've read, no one is canceling their St. Patrick's Day parade.

I don't know what the weather will be like next week, but to me Easter Sunday should be warm with temperatures at least in the mid to upper 70s. We all know that late March weather can be fickle with freaky blizzards and cold temperatures. I like Easter when the world is waking up after winter and when the grass is starting to green. I think Easter is a time of daffodils and spring flowers not snow and cold.

A good start to Easter Sunday is a sunrise service with the temperature at least in the low 60s. Then, families should dress up and head to church. I think back when our three daughters were young and Jean had spent countless hours fashioning and sewing new dresses. Sometimes, the girls had hats and gloves, too. At that time we lived in KCK and were members of Central Christian Church which was a reasonably large church. There was always a big attendance on Easter Sunday.

After church we would see what the Easter bunny had left. We put together Easter baskets always using some artificial grass, candy eggs and normally, a small gift. We had boiled eggs and on the Saturday before Easter, it was sort of a family tradition to color the eggs. Easter was a time of family fun. Most kids knew that Easter wasn't as big a "toy day" as Christmas.

Apparently in the early part of the 20th century, Easter Sunday was a time to make a public show of your fashion tastes. Most cities, including Kansas City had unofficial Easter parades when the fashionable would walk through the downtown area in their finery. Newspapers made a big deal about it and the most popular secular holiday song is Irving Berlin's class, "Easter Parade." While I never attended, I understand that the Plaza was the place to be on Easter Sunday afternoon.

I started thinking about what I liked about Easter and I came up with a big list. I love boiled eggs and marshmallow bunnies. Is there anything better than ham for Easter Sunday dinner? I enjoy the special worship opportunities given by churches such as those on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. There Is always great music, too.

I have always enjoyed Easter egg hunts. We still have a family tradition of an Easter egg hunt when the grandchildren look for plastic eggs hidden in the backyard. Even though they are growing up, it is still an important part of the Easter observance.

Community Easter egg hunts are always fun, too. It usually takes volunteers at last 30 minutes to get the Eggs hidden in park areas. It probably takes about 20 minutes to get the kids in the proper line. However, when the horn sounds, the young hunters will have picked the area clean in less than five minutes. Spectators always enjoy watching kids scurrying over the park area and filling their baskets with plastic eggs and other treats..

The date of the observance of Easter has changed over the years. Now, Easter is observed on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. This Easter, March 23, is the second earliest date that it can be observed. The earliest date would be March 22 and the latest is April 25.

The debate of when to observe Easter dates back to Pope Victor I, who served from 189 to 198. He set the observance for the 14th day of Nisan, a month on the old Jewish calendar. The present formula dates from the Council of Nicaea in 325. However, a unified observance of Easter didn't take place until nations embraced the Gregorian calendar.

Some 40 years ago, I spent Easter in Australia and since the seasons are reversed, Easter down under is observed as fall descends. I had one clergyman tell me that he enjoyed the American timing better since the world was greening up and there was a promise of new life and resurrection. I really hope that next week brings beautiful weather and that we all enjoy a wonderful holiday with friends and family. Please have a very happy Easter and don't forget the real meaning of the day.

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