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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Memories

Easter is what's known as a moveable feast. This has nothing to do with catering, unfortunately. It means that it's not a fixed date on the calendar. But, of course, it always falls on a Sunday. It is, ostensibly, about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (I will discuss that in more detail). Easter is linked to Passover in many ways. Not only do the religious observances often overlap, but in many languages, "Easter" and "Passover" are identical or very similar words.

Well, you all know Easter Sunday's a church-going day. When I was growing up, it was a very formal one at that. Wearing a new suit and tie to church was a must. My Mom always bought mine at Robert Hall's. "Robert Hall was a pioneer of the low-overhead, large-facility ('big-box') merchandising technique, and combined inexpensively made goods with extensive radio and television advertising," explains Wikipedia.

Easter and Robert Hall are inseparable in my mind to this day. I loved being measured and fitted for my Easter suits, especially when it was an annual event as I'd outgrow my suit from Easter to Easter. Sometimes my Mom would trim the budget. "How about we get you a new jacket and you can wear your khaki pants?" Aw, Mom!

Dying eggs (and stenciling them) was also an exciting event the night before Easter. Creating graffiti and design on hard-boiled eggs. The kitchen smelled of vinegar and I felt very close to my Mom and brother Robert in our creative collaborations. Of course, we had our creative differences at moments.

Well, the clothes, the bonnets, the bunnies, the egg hunts, the parades, the feasting is all so fabulous, isn't it! Nothing to do with Jesus, of course, but hey! It's all rooted -- like Passover -- in the primal relationship of man to the seasonally fertile earth. It's a fecund season! Crops are growing! Wine is flowing! Blood is thinning and people are getting randy... as well as dandy! Rabbits become a fertility symbol.

My friend, Nancy, while a student at Boston University, had a pet rabbit she named Nico (yes, after the Velvet Underground singer). Bunny Nico was a boy, however. Nico made a lot of noogies that Nancy routinely cleaned up (thank Christ rabbits poop hard pellets). He also liked coming in her footwear and trying to hump her leg all the time. Nico lived to a nice, ripe old age.

My brother and I had a chick once. It was just a few weeks before Easter when a baby chick burst out of an egg from the refrigerator (on the egg tray). My Mom warmed it in a hand towel. It was kept on the back porch that spring, and my brother and I took care of it. It eventually developed a cancerous growth and died. We buried it in the backyard. I do not recommend chicks or bunny as pets or Easter presents, however.

Easter and Passover's timing on the annual calendar have everything to do with the Equinox and the rites of fertility. As the Uk's The Guardian explained: The general symbolic story of the death of the son (sun) on a cross (the constellation of the Southern Cross) and his rebirth, overcoming the powers of darkness, was a well worn story in the ancient world. There were plenty of parallel, rival resurrected saviours too.

The Sumerian goddess Inanna, or Ishtar, was hung naked on a stake, and was subsequently resurrected and ascended from the underworld. One of the oldest resurrection myths is Egyptian Horus. Born on 25 December, Horus and his damaged eye became symbols of life and rebirth. Mithras was born on what we now call Christmas day, and his followers celebrated the spring equinox.

For me, Easter is a time of love,  especially love of friends and family. In my childhood, my Mom would take us to church while my grandmother took care of the cooking. We'd return after Easter mass, me in my latest Robert Hall fashion, and shortly after that, family would arrive. Aunts and uncles and cousins. How I miss those days when we were all so close.

After the passing of my Mom in 2011, my nuclear family basically fell apart. And Easter was never the same for me. But, it is a time of rebirth and new hopes, and I'll rise again.

Have a Blessed and a Happy Easter, everyone! And, Babs, I love my li'l eggies!

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