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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Traditions

Today is a special day. And yet it signifies so many different things to so many different people. Some see it as a day for consuming boatloads of candy, dyeing eggs, easter bunnies, petting zoos, feasting on good food with family, and egg hunts. I enjoy all that just as much as the guy next door, but I want our focus to be on commemorating the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion. Sure, the candy and egg coloring parties are fun and exciting, and I loved watching Dylan discover the "hidden" eggs on our bi-daily hunts this weekend in our living room for plastic eggs filled with pretzels and raisins (ok, and a few jelly beans, cause you gotta let the little guy have candy here once in a while!)
But what does Easter really mean?

In years past we loved the Easter Sunrise Service that our church in St. Louis held in Forest Park. It was cold, bitterly cold, but awesome to watch the sun rise over the park, with the choir behind us belting out Halleluia.
If the weather itself didn't raise the hair on your arms, the music sure did. It was incredible.

I want Dylan to grow up knowing the origin of the traditions we embrace each year as a family. What does it all mean and where do these fun, yet seemingly silly, traditions come from?

Here is what I found out and what we plan to instill as our own traditions in the coming years:

Easter Eggs: In Medieval Europe, eggs were forbidden during Lent. Eggs laid during that time were often boiled or otherwise preserved. Eggs were thus a mainstay of Easter meals, and a prized Easter gift for children and servants.
Orthodox Christians in the Middle East and in Greece painted eggs bright red to symbolize the blood of Christ.
This year we dyed and decorated Easter Eggs with our friends Ana and Rowen (and made cookies).

Easter Bunny: Hares and rabbits have long been symbols of fertility. The inclusion of the hare into Easter customs appears to have originated in Germany, where tales were told of an "Easter hare" who laid eggs for children to find.
Dylan got an Easter Basket from each of his grandmas, which he has throughly enjoyed (and to be honest, Ryan and I were just as excited because that meant we could raid his candy this year. Because a 21 month old doesn't need too much candy, right?)

Easter Parades: After their baptisms, early Christians wore white robes all through Easter week to indicate their new lives. Those had already been baptized wore new clothes instead to symbolize their sharing a new life with Christ.
In Medieval Europe, churchgoers would take a walk after Easter Mass, led by a crucifix or the Easter candle. Today these walks endure as Easter Parades. People show off their spring finery, including lovely bonnets decorated for spring.
I want us to have a family tradition of taking a post-dinner family Easter walk around our neighborhood. Walks are an important and much looked-forward part of our daily, evening routine, and I think it would be a nice variation of the "parade" tradition. This year it is overcast and rainy here, but we will do our best.

Reflecting on our Savior's gift:
For our sinful pleasure, HE GAVE THE FATHER HIS PAIN.
For our violence, anger, and rebellion, HE GAVE THE FATHER HIS GENTLENESS.
For all our wrongs, HE WAS WRONGED.
And yet He loved us. AND YET HE FORGAVE US.

And that, my friends, is the bottom line. He died, and rose again, giving us the gift of life.

Happy Easter!

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Loved your Easter Blog. It is wonderful to have family traditions which you and your children will treasure and hold dear in their hearts and souls forever. I enjoyed the history of traditions and I was moved by your focus of what Easter is truly about. Your childrens faith will give them a true anchor in an ever changing world. Love Mummy


Amen. This is a wonderful post - and so important, you're right. I've never actually attended the sunrise service with any of the churches I've ever been a part of. It has always been something "too early" - but now I'm feeling sad that I missed it this year, and hopefully we'll try it out next Easter.

I'm glad to hear you had a happy Easter!


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