There was not an Easter Day tradition formed in me in my childhood. Beyond the religious aspect of Easter Sunday, there was nothing else done that day that I can remember.
What was important to me was the days preceding Easter, My favorite time during the “Passion” week was Holy Thursday. A day when traditionally each church decorated the Altar in a theme symbolizing the Passion of Christ. The thought was to visit 13 churches by foot which represented the 13 Stations of the Cross. We would say a quick prayer at each church and move on to the next. The streets of Cali, Colombia were full of people in a carnival kind of atmosphere contrary to what the Passion of Jesus should symbolize. I loved that day. We’d stop at the caramel peanut kiosks and the “meat on a stick” kiosks even though I was not supposed to eat meat.
Good Friday was somber, as it should be, and we ate sardines and rice. No extravagant fish dish. I was reminded by the radio station that played all day of the horrible death of Jesus and, for that one day, I hoped not to have a single bad thought in my head. It was hard.
Easter was uneventful. I don’t remember it being much more than an above average meal and somehow the thought that things went back to normal. A few close friends came over for dinner sometimes – or maybe every Easter. In the memory of a child, a year seems a life time so maybe it was every year. What I remember about them was that they dressed up, and usually they would wear a new outfit for that day. I never asked the reason or the meaning behind their elegant attire and if I had, I probably would not have gotten an answer. Most traditions are followed, not understood.
As a grown up, Easter has been a Holiday where by default my small family has designated me as the hostess and I have reluctantly accepted. But beyond my reluctance, I have enjoyed cooking a meal and gathering my family and my close friend on that day. More than the true meaning of Easter, I have equated this Holiday for the past few years with closeness.
Because this year my son is away in college, and members of my small family are forced to work on this day, and my close friend is also away, this casual tradition that started a few years ago is rapidly fading. But although, due to circumstances, I can not celebrate it with the same people with whom I learned to enjoy it, sharing the Easter meal with a good friend this year has dissipated the loneliness this Holiday brings to me.
I can only pass on to my children the story of the 13 churches I used to visit when I was their age and hope that the tradition we started of our small gatherings remains untouched and unique in their memories as it is in mine.