I was raised by non-practicing Illinois Catholics, so my childhood Easter was characterized by Easter egg hunts, stiff spring dresses, and the occasional Mass. My sister and I anticipated the holiday with the same excitement as Christmas, knowing that it meant surprises, dressing up, and lots of candy, but little understanding of the spiritual meaning of the event. Somehow, my parents seemed more relaxed and present at Easter than they did at Christmas: Christmas was for the kids, an exhausting show of decorations, gifts and activities; but Easter was somehow more egalitarian and involved, especially as we got older and the Bunny was less necessary. We all had fun on Easter.
Now that I’m raising my children in a more definitively secular home, I realize that my parents cultivated some beautiful Easter traditions that I can pass down to my children. Our “Easter” has more in common with solstice celebrations (or equinox, I suppose): a focus on the joyful emergence from the dark waiting of winter. As I write this, I realize that Easter was also an occasion for us to connect to the places we lived. We ventured out to find the most attractive and special spots in our hometown at the time, even if it was a town whose weather and character often made us feel alienated and confused. Easter was a time where we were all happy wherever we were.
Here are four (secular) Easter traditions shared in my family. Continue reading