Archive for Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter: A joyous time

April 9, 2009

This week is both a busy and joyous time for many as we observe Easter. I truly look forward to the religious and secular celebrations of Easter and it is a time for joy and family fun.

There is so much for the entire family to enjoy during Easter. I remember when our daughters were young, Jean spent weeks sewing new dresses for Easter. On Sunday morning, the girls would be decked out in new outfits, which, sometimes, included hats, gloves, purses and new, shiny patent-leather shoes. This was true in many families where everybody but dad had new clothes for the Easter Sunday services. Men, of course, wore their “Sunday best” suits to church. Now, dressing up for church isn’t that big of a deal anymore and comfort, not fashion, is more important.

Another memory is Easter Sunday dinner, which often included ham and scalloped potatoes. We always had lots of family fun on Easter Sunday.

The observance started on Saturday night when we colored Easter eggs. We gathered around the kitchen table with cups filled with brightly colored dye and turned normally mundane, white eggs into a thing of beauty. Well, maybe it was more that “beauty was in the eye of the beholder” with eggs being dipped into two or three colors of dye.

After the girls had gone to bed, Jean assembled Easter baskets and we hid them knowing that there would be an exciting search early the next morning.

Another of my holiday favorites has been Easter egg hunts. I have been involved in community hunts in three communities and there is nothing more fun that watching a four-year-old discover an egg! As our family expanded, we annually hold a backyard hunt for the grandchildren. After a number of years, the family hunt is a “tradition.”

The Easter egg has a unique tradition dating back to pre-Christian days and was quickly made part of the Christian celebration. I read one unique use of eggs at Easter. It seems that in Chester, England, in ancient days, eggs were part of a bizarre Easter game during church services. While details are lacking, it seems that the bishop and dean would take eggs to church and at special time during the service would throw them at the choir. After that, the congregation attended a special Easter breakfast.

The U.S. government has a long history of involvement with Easter eggs. When James Madison was president, an egg rolling contest was started on the White House lawn by first lady Dolly Madison. The event has continued off and on over the centuries. It was stopped during the Civil War and re-instituted by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878. The event was stopped during World War I and World War II. Native Kansan, President Dwight D. Eisenhower restarted the event again in 1953.

I certainly relish ham for Easter dinner and it is a custom that dates back to the time of William the Conqueror. William preferred ham to bacon and his preference soon became a tradition.

One ancient belief was that if you saved an egg laid on Easter for a century and then broke it open it would be filled with diamonds. I have to wonder if any century old eggs exist and what they must smell like now!

You can tell that I am really looking forward to this weekend. I will enjoy the good food and watching the fun of youngsters scrambling for eggs. Yet with all of that said, what I enjoy most is the religious services and the reminder of continuing life and the necessity for personal sacrifice. I hope that you and your family have a joyous Easter and that you don’t forget the real meaning of the holiday.

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