Spring has always been my favorite time of year. The excitement of warmth, green grass, longer days and of course, Easter. In the Greek Orthodox faith, Easter (Pascha) is the most celebrated throughout the church and its community. So, in my family, we engaged in the Lenten season and Pascha using the time to reflect, make change, support others and celebrate a rebirth through Christ’s resurrection. It has always been such a beautiful time and one I look forward to every year.
Generally, Pascha didn’t fall on the same day as Easter, so we were lucky and celebrated both in different ways. As a child it was often hard to explain the celebrations and differences in traditions, especially when Easter was on a different Sunday. For Pascha we didn’t have baskets, the bunny didn’t visit and we didn’t hunt for eggs. Instead, we went to church, cracked our red eggs and enjoyed lamb and Koulourakia with family around the table.
“The date of Orthodox Easter changes every year, usually occurring on a date different from that of the West. (Occasionally the dates coincide). The Orthodox calculate the date according to a canon adopted in 325: Easter is determined on the old Julian calendar as the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox. Passover must always come before Easter.” – Marilyn Rouvelas, A Guide to Greek Traditions and Customs in America
We still participated in egg hunts, baskets and lots of chocolate eggs, which I loved. One year my brother put together the best hunt ever, around my house. He had thought up great clues, the prizes were fun and I still remember that as one of my favorite Easter experiences. So, we were lucky, we had both traditions in our lives. I appreciate that now, having the faith traditions and holiday traditions because I know that will be something we will pass along to my daughter. "Family traditions are important because they help create new holiday memories with family members, while giving you ones to look forward to next year," says Michigan-based child therapist, Alison Neihardt, author of Counseling Activities for Children on a Shoestring Budget.
She will have eggs, red for one celebration and various colors for the others. She will enjoy a basket from the Easter bunny and a candle from church. We will share with her the tradition of all the women in her life gathering to roll Koulourakia and sharing that time together. My experiences inspired a children’s book celebrating our family traditions and the special impact that had on my life. I hope it will make the same impact on her.
Happy Spring to you all. Sending love and excitement for your celebrations, whatever they might be. For those who celebrate multiple holidays in multiple ways, I am excited you get the ability to bring multiple traditions together, and wish you a lot of happy and peaceful time with your loved ones.