With Easter Sunday approaching on the same weekend as Passover Friday, I am once again reminded of my jumble of emotion regarding the holidays. As the youngest of seven in my Catholic family, we celebrated Easter the “traditional” way. We had given up something on Ash Wednesday, and were ready for Palm Sunday to arrive so we could indulge again. I was handed my palm frond at mass wearing brand new white tights with a pastel floral dress and purple silk ribbon sash. Easter represented beauty all around, spring flowers, egg coloring, and a huge chocolate bunny. It didn’t taste so good by itself. I had to get out the jar of peanut butter to really enjoy it. Of course there were jellybeans, and marshmallow chicks, and Easter grass to dig through to find the jellybeans that had fallen to the bottom of the basket. My parents hid the jellybeans all over the house, along the moldings, and on the mantle, behind pictures, on the arms of chairs. The night before Easter was almost as exciting as Christmas Eve, knowing the Easter Bunny would be coming and leaving behind candy everywhere.
As the years passed and it was time to raise my own kids, we hid a whole basket of candy for them to find. But we didn’t tell them about an Easter Bunny. I wouldn’t allow it. As a teen, death came knocking and took big chunk out of my large family. And so for me, the God of the Bible became a fairy tale, just like Santa Clause, the tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. They were all make-believe. And that made perfect sense. Thankfully, I had a wonderful conversion back to faith when I was in my late twenties. I decided it was not right to tell little kids things that aren’t true. Because they believe you! And then, if you try to tell them something IS true, like Jesus coming back to life and floating up to heaven like an angel, well, it just sounds like those other stories.
I wanted to celebrate the Resurrection with my kids. I wondered how to do some kind of honor or justice to the best news I’ve ever heard and believed! I looked to Jesus, and discovered that He celebrated Passover. His last supper was a big Jewish holiday. And Passover was all about death “passing over” the believers, or the chosen ones. And on the third day, when we celebrate with bunnies and eggs, and a ham dinner, it is his victory over death that we are really glorying in!
I got so interested in Passover, that we began having a Passover Seder for Easter dinner, or sometime that weekend. My daughter loves to cook, and she prepared dish after wonderful dish of things we had never eaten before. And we have celebrated Passover for the last twelve years or so. We usually get the day wrong, and we often improvise on all the rules, but for teenagers, it was a great way to celebrate Easter. There are prayers, and good food, and several wine toasts that made them more than happy to participate! One year we actually had a “real Jew” come to our dinner. He was a friend of my daughters and he told us that Passover is how he learned the effects of alcohol, and what he could handle. He explained the general gist of the evening, “They tried to kill us. We survived. Now let’s eat!”
This year, there will be little ones around again. My husband’s little grand guys will be excited to find eggs and candy I’m sure. And I find myself drawn to bunnies, and flowers, and jellybeans, as well as Easter candles, the Seder Plate, white linen, and pastel eggs. Oh, and the wine.