Easter Traditions are More than Just Food

Chocolate bunnyTomorrow is Easter Sunday and we’ve been seeing chocolate bunnies and jelly beans, plastic grass and stuffed rabbits, and kits to color eggs since Valentine’s Day, substituting one candy holiday for another, apparently. Most of Us have eyes only for the chocolate and sugary candies that fill the shelves at CVS and everywhere else we’ve been going for weeks.

Grumpychair talked about going through her stash of white chocolate peanut butter Reeses eggs and I know we can all relate – if not in the present, at least from the past. I don’t even live with anyone else and I’ve still been known to hide stashes of chocolate things in a vain attempt to pretend I wasn’t going to eat all of them anyway.

But there are other traditions associated with this time that are not food related (I know, isn’t it astounding to consider non-food things?).

There is, of course, the religious significance of the day, the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This is HUGE and not something I think about a lot because I never considered him to be not resurrected. To me this isn’t a theory or a fantasy, it is something I believe wholeheartedly. I don’t try to shove it down anyone else’s throat but it’s a core belief.

I sang in church choirs for 40 years (I’m taking a little break now) and have celebrated Easter in little chapels, simple services and big extravaganzas in a cathedral and a huge city church with congregations of 1,200 – for three services. We had trumpets and tympani, extravagant flowers with fragrant Easter lilies, and the big tall Easter candle, incised and blessed.

Handel’s MessiahAnd of course there was the music, all those Easter hymns and wonderful anthems, with the sopranos soaring up with descants and filled with the joy of the day. I can sing most by heart – melody and alto, though not at the same time, of course.

Today I popped in a CD of the second half of Handel’s Messiah, an oratorio I can sing with only short peeks at the printed score. Many people hear all the Christmas portions and then, come Easter, forget that there is a whole hunk of beautiful music of the passion and resurrection. Even in my own home, I had to stand up to sing the Hallelujah Chorus – it’s almost a rule. But there is so much more than that and it all fed my soul.

TV traditionally airs “Ten Commandments” on the Saturday before Easter, and today is no exception. It’s there in all it’s cheesy technicolor glory, with a young Charlton Heston (pre-NRA) pitted against a young Yul Brenner. Very clean costumes and sets, and dialog that sounds stilted and melodramatic.

10 CommandmentsI see at least parts of it every year and this year have watched since Moses was found in a basket in the Nile through the plagues and into the parting of the Red Sea and the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments. They had to name the movie for something and it wasn’t called Exodus (that was another movie based on something else entirely). But I digress. Watching the movie is one of my traditions.

I haven’t been in the “new dress for Easter” thing for years because when you cover everything with a head-to-toe choir robe, you don’t need anything new and pretty. Better to save that for another opportunity, so that one wasn’t one of my traditions.

Traditions are built with memories and experiences. The good stuff tends to stick while the unimportant fade away. We can change our traditions, or at least some of them, as we move to new places in our life and in our relationships. Some family things seem locked in concrete which can be immobilizing or comforting. If something becomes destructive for us, though, it is essential that we neutralize it or put ourselves in a different place where it won’t cause us to shut down emotionally or erupt in anger.

Forge a new tradition this year, a non-food one, that will keep you healthy and bring you happiness.

Happy Easter!