This column in devoted to everything you ever wanted to know about Easter and more.
The year is 1965. We are in the quaint oceanside town of Ventura. It is loaded with cause for a celebration day. Our clock reminds us that it is near time to go, so I hurry to put the final touches on my son Brett’s navy suit with the pants that almost reach his knees.
I adjust his red bow tie and wonder how anyone could be any cuter? Soon we are entering the old cathedral which is filled with a sea of white flowers with white satin ribbons. I think to myself, what a lovely sight it all was, when I heard Brett, say, “It is all just so beautiful!”
A rather pious woman overhears him and bows to speak with him, smiling, she says, “Yes, it is beautiful, isn’t it? This is because it is Easter.”
My son replied,” No, it’s ’cause it’s my birthday. I’m two!”
Later my son learned about Easter, but that Sunday is one of my sweetest memories, a time when my son saw the world in such simple ways and he was still the star of his own story.
Now I will share with you some of what I shared with Brett as I put it to him, part meat and potatoes and part cotton candy.
The meat is, of course, that Easter is the Christian celebration day marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The New Testament describes Christ’s rising from the dead on the third day after his burial, after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary in 30 AD.
The earliest observance of an Easter celebration comes from around the second century. In 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea decreed that Easter should be observed on the first Sunday following the first moon after the spring equinox. So, it can be celebrated on any Sunday, from year to year, from March 22 to April 25.
Brett’s birthday, April 8, fell on Easter on his second birthday. In the Catholic tradition, Easter follows Lent, a period of time that precedes Holy Week. This week includes Maundy Thursday, the commemoration of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples; Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, which marks the transition between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection which is observed sometime between sunset on Easter Saturday and sunrise Easter day.
By the fourth century, the Easter Vigil was characterized by a joyful anticipation of the resurrection, because of the belief that the second coming would come on Easter.
The celebration of Easter has accumulated many traditions over the passage of time, many of which have little to do with the Christian celebration of the resurrection, but from folk customs and modern times.
Since the twelfth century the Lenten feast has included a meal of egg, ham, cheese, bread and sweets.
I used to love eating June Erreca’s Easter pie, cooked in the Italian tradition. Now you’ll learn some stuff you can share at Easter and sound super smart.
The first decorated egg was reported in the thirteenth century. Since the church prohibited the eating of eggs during Holy week, but chickens continued to lay them, the notion of specially identifying those as “holy week eggs” brought about the decorations. For just as Jesus rose from the tomb, the eggs’ symbolic new life emerged from the egg shell.
The first Easter Egg hunt in the US was sponsored by Lucy Hayes, wife of President Ruthford Hayes, on the White House lawn in 1878.
Rabbits or bunnies rose to their place of significance in the seventeenth century. Our Easter Rabbit, a very talented fellow is said to lay the eggs, decorate and then hide them. An estimated 90 million chocolate bunnies are made each year.
What part of the chocolate rabbit is eaten first? Of course, the ears.
A staggering 16 million jelly beans are consumed each year in America, The most popular color jelly bean? Red.
The most popular Easter candy in America? Marshmallow peeps.
Evan Esar once quipped that, “Easter is the only time when it is perfectly safe to put all your eggs in one basket. While Kate McGahan philosophized, “The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends, and that love never dies.”
No matter what your beliefs, Easter, with its promise of rebirth brings the promise of spring and renewal. With the rising sun comes a new sense of hope, and that is something we can all celebrate.
This year Brett missed it by one day, so honey, it is all about just you.