While the beginning of Easter actually started last month with Ash Wednesday on March 1, but April is the month in which things actually feel “Eastery.” with a change in the weather, Spring Training and the start of baseball, Lent and all the assorted associations. For all of you non Catholics (which includes yours truly), which if you went to Sunday School, you’d probably know that the day marks 40 days before Easter. As Tevye said, “You may ask why…” and the answer is “Because it’s a TRADITION! And, while Christmas seems to have a better press agent, for me the Easter season and Lent hits a more positive visceral/spiritual level. Even if you’re the most diehard atheist, you’ve got to admit that “primavera” wakes up your soul with hope. Here are my reasons.
1) The preparation for Easter, meaning Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday and the subsequent 40 days, is a ritual my family and I always appreciate. For Catholics, the putting on of ash to your forehead serves as a reminder that you’re body one day returns to dust (until the resurrection) keeping your life in perspective, particularly when you get upset by that guy who cut you off in traffic.
2) Lent! It literally means “a long time period.” During this time, pilgrims of Orthodox or Catholic backgrounds give up something to remind them of Christ’s sacrifice. It’s fun to sit around the table and discuss what you’re going to give up. It’s good for the soul to go without something for awhile, and hopefully realize that you didn’t need that thing anyway. Success is not how much you have, but how little you need.
3) For the 40 days of lent, in the Greek Orthodox culture, we greet each other (“even if ya can’t stand da guy,” as my dad would say with his Philly accent) with “Christos Anesti” (Christ is risen) and the person would answer “Alethos Anesti” (He’s risen indeed). Hard to beat that for a way to say hi! Also, the scene from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” when Ian Miller wishes his future Father In Law a happy “Christos Anesti” is still the best summary of our ethno centricity! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FukDxPYDbC8
4) Jesus Christ dying on the cross, taking our punishment, and then conquering death by rising on Easter morning is just a hard gig to get over. And what have YOU done lately?!?
6) Easter Egg Hunts! Hurry! Before they melt!
7) Icons, statues and Retablos from all the world that depict scenes of Christ’s last week. Gorgeous Peruvian dioramas, mystical Greek Icons, tacky statues and paintings, timeless Armenian tiles. We’ve got them all over the house and office, and they definitely liven things up.
9) Therefore, the movie Easter Parade, or Al Jolson’s version
11) Spring training! Opening Day! There’s hope for my team. Everyone looks great in fresh and clean uniforms. The rookies look excited and the vets look focused
12) It reminds me of the Easter Sunday that I met Ronald Reagan at a church service. This was pre-president days, and he looked dapper in his brown suit. Friendly and conversant, he looked very comfortable in who he was. Nice seeing a politician worshipping God.
13) No trees to clean up!
14) And, let’s not forget PASSOVER, with Moses (or Charleton Heston) and the tribe being protected by God while Pharaoh (or Yul Brenner) bite the dust. Let my people go! Let’s have a Seder! God protects His people!
15) My wife and I usually go on medical mission trips during this time of the year to Egypt and Ethiopia. In both of these countries there are Coptic Christians who celebrate Easter with a special “Lent Diet.” In Egypt they make this bread that is a hint of heaven. In Ethiopia, they have special gluten free “injera” bread with these DELICIOUS vegetable additions. Another gift from the God of love.
16) Pruning trees, watching the them bud and blossom, giving a sign of hope for the next year.
17) Christos Anesti!