This past weekend was Easter in the Christian faith and 2023 is one of those rare occasions when a special time in different religions corresponds with Easter. If I remember correctly, Ramadan and Passover are also being celebrated.
No matter what observance you and your family recognized, you most likely had several traditions, both secular and non, that your family honored. Tradition, much like the famous song from Fiddler on the Roof, is based on generations of history and while traditions may evolve over the years, the basic tenet of that tradition tends to pass from one generation to the next.
In my family, church services on Easter Sunday are the core tradition to Easter. Dressed in our new spring bits and bobs, families parade to church where sanctuaries are adorned with Easter lily’s and the colors of spring and rebirth. Children fidget in their pews waiting for the service to be over so they can race home and partake in a family easter egg hunt while nervous parents, concerned with the dozens of family members soon to descend on their home, wonder if the ham will be done in time and the choir prepares for a majestic rendering of the Hallelujah Chorus.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Churches aren’t built for Easter Sunday?” It’s an old adage that implies churches are only truly full to the brim on Easter and over the years it has certainly proven to be true in my church. But what is it that brings people to church that morning? Is it the promise of life ever lasting exhibited by the man on the cross? Is it being able to flaunt our finest church clothes after a winter bundled up in fleece? Or is it simply tradition? We grew up going to church on Easter and while we hope to make it every other Sunday as well, Easter is special not only in the secular world, but in the world of many families.
As a child, the biggest concern we had at Easter was whether Grandma had yet figured out that no one liked the big candy eggs coated in what seemed like an inch of hard sugar. For the record, she never did, but receiving that bag of candy from Grandma was just another tradition that we grew up with.
In our family another tradition occurred the Saturday night before Easter. It was a time to gather round the kitchen table with little cups of vinegar infused water to dye hard boiled eggs pastel blues, yellows and pinks so that the Easter bunny had something to hide for the next morning. It was a messy tradition that has in many families been replaced with hard plastic eggs stuffed with candy to be scattered around the yard. Neither one is a better tradition, but I can’t help but have a fondness for those times spent as a family coloring eggs.
Traditions during COVID changed out of necessity and while families couldn’t gather together in person, virtual celebrations emerged to still provide that sense of shared belonging. Our computer screens were a Brady Bunch hodgepodge of faces all brought together for that moment in time as one big extended family. We adapted so we could continue our traditions.
That is what makes a tradition more than just fun. Tradition is what binds us together as families. It is developing memories that span generations to make a day or a special event more special. It’s what sets my family apart from yours and my religion apart from another, even while it binds us all together. Tradition develops over generations and ties my generation to my ancestors; shared events and times that span centuries making us and our beliefs unique and yet making us part of a worldwide celebration.
How have the traditions evolved in your family? Are you like me and can’t wait to see what the next generation has in store for us? Only time will tell and that in itself is part of what makes each tradition so uniquely ours.
Until next time, be well my friends…