Yes, I am old-fashioned, but if you knew me way back when, you might have thought that 50 or more years ago, too. Easter is a sacred and holy day for many Christians worldwide. A treasure trove of memories floods my brain with Easters past.
Back in the day, it was really something. For many folks, it was the one or perhaps second time they got a brand-spanking-new outfit for the entire year. Somehow, regardless of poverty, we always managed to have a new one to wear to church that Sunday.
Growing up in Michigan, it was generally pretty cold, too, so it included a jacket or coat. We girls got a new, fancy dress with new shoes, socks, a hat, purse and a pair of white gloves.
My younger brothers got a new or almost-new suit with a white shirt and tie — often a bow tie but always pre-tied. They sported new shoes and socks, too. Even the grownups gussied up.
Many families only went to church once or twice a year. Christmas was the other date, but nobody missed Easter. Now, we weren’t heathens, but our family did not attend church regularly during my early years.
Tradition is important, despite it diminishing in popularity. New traditions are fine, but please don’t discard all the old ones.
Good Friday was egg-coloring time, and we were tickled for this activity. The only thing fancy was a transparent crayon used to print the names of family members or draw a pitiful heart or flower on the shell before dipping it into the dye. Anyone else smell the vinegar? It was an exciting time.
Another tradition was watching the movie “Easter Parade.” Nobody danced like Fred Astaire. Everyone knew the lyrics to the title song as we sang it loudly and long. “In Your Easter Bonnet …"
Easter morn, we were up at the crack of dawn to burrow into our Easter baskets filled with candy. After church, we came home to a dinner of baked ham, potato salad, deviled eggs, lemon meringue pie and lots of sides. Everyone had an Easter ham, because it was customary for employers to give one to each worker — also at Christmas. Turkeys were given for Thanksgiving.
Next was the Easter Egg Hunt. Daddy and the other men hid the eggs while we tried to stifle our anticipation as the ladies did the dishes. Food was left on the table, covered with a cloth, because we nibbled on the leftovers for supper.
At “Go!” we scattered in every direction to fill our baskets. Who would find the most eggs? It was a pre-plastic-eggs era, so they were all hard-boiled.
Apparently, filling your basket with the most eggs was the prize, since bragging rights were the only prize I recall. Easy-to-spot eggs were off-limits to anyone over 5. The men were pretty creative in their hiding places, starting off with a total count of eggs to be hidden and then tallied up, always falling short of the beginning figure. Once, I found one in the end of the clothesline post in June or July! Oh, my, that was memorable.
The men tired of this quickly, so the children took turns hiding the eggs. We did this over and over until we decided it was time for more candy from our closely guarded baskets.
Whatever eggs survived the repetitive hunts were gathered. The women used them later for egg salad and more deviled eggs. Nothing went to waste, except a few crushed beyond salvation.
Today, Easter is celebrated differently. It’s more solemn in my world. It’s sacred. The reason for the season is first and foremost.
Today’s Easter outfits are so casual, comparatively. The contents of the baskets have changed to include expensive electronics, many trinkets and baubles from dollar stores and even pricy jewelry.
Many traditions have died off as patriarchs and matriarchs have passed into immortality. Does anyone even hard-boil eggs anymore? Do people really dress so casually to attend church? As I ponder these things, I’m sad that many of my posterity are missing out on some of the best times of their lives.
Yes, I may be old-fashioned, but motley melding of old and new traditions are idyllic. How grateful I am that many families today put more emphasis on attending church regularly than in my early years, though my family began attending church faithfully just a few short years later.
Like Christmas, Easter celebrations now omit the primary reason we observe these special days. It should be a celebration of Jesus Christ, his atonement and resurrection. It’s not about the bunny. It’s about the lamb.
— A coal miner’s daughter born in Appalachia and schooled in Michigan, she currently lives in rural Athens. Hill describes herself as a cook and cookbook author, jack of all trades and master of none, a Christian wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She shares her home with her husband, Bob, and their spoiled-beyond-belief dog, Molly.