My mom, who was raised on the “stork story”, spilled the scoop on babies, Santa, and the Easter bunny when I was still in pigtails. The day I got the reality check on the Easter bunny is still clear in my mind, as if it were yesterday. It was 1955 and I was only five years old. Mamma and I were coloring hard boiled eggs in our country kitchen back in Texas, when she casually announced, “you know, Honey, you’ll be too old to do this in a few years. And now about that big white bunny that hides these eggs all over our yard…….”
It’s no wonder that seventeen years later, at the age of 22, I chuckled when I first met my future in laws, Eastern Byzantine Catholics from Czechoslovakia. Emigrants in the early 1930s, they had come “over on the boat”, bringing all her European customs with them to their new home land in Brooklyn, New York. The day we met was Good Friday. I recall how they hadn’t even unpacked their bags, before they were looking in my fiancé’s refrigerator, searching for eggs to color. Here were two adults in their mid-fifties, coloring Easter eggs, and their “little boy,” my 24 -year -old soon-to-husband was joining in on the “fun”.
Back then in 1972, I didn’t realize that two totally different cultures were about to collide. The Texas Baptist Corrells, who believe that “every Sunday is Easter” had met up with the Byzantium Catholic Kichuras who spend days toiling over an elaborate Easter basket that’s blessed by a priest at a midnight Easter eve communion service.
This week I’m especially remembering my in laws, as last Friday my father-in-law joined my mother-in-law in heaven. With only three days before the funeral, I’m reliving memories of both of them, wishing I could turn back the clock and had been more of a bridge builder than a wall builder. I wish I had respected their traditions and not felt so intimidated when my mother-in-law had tried, in vain, to get me to slave over a hot stove, putting together a traditional Byzantium Easter basket, complete with ham, hard boiled colored eggs, horseradish, kielbasa, Easter paska, and all the trimmings, years ago when she visited us during Holy Week in south Florida.
However, not only was I not used to coloring Easter eggs as a grown woman, but it also bothered me that the Easter egg tradition originated from pagan roots. However, when you see children hunting colored Easter eggs, you can either think , “Oh, no, they are keeping a pagan idea alive that dates back thousands of years.” Or you can use it as an opportunity to bring Christ into an age-old pagan custom.
Instead of lecturing, as you color your eggs, use the different colors as an open door for a Gospel lesson. For example, for those eggs colored….
“Yellow”--- Rejoice in the brilliance of yellow sunshine, the joy of knowing Jesus.
“Red” ----- Be thankful for the shed blood of Jesus.
“Purple“----Behold the royalty and majesty of Jesus
Green“----Celebrate rebirth, your new life in Christ.
“Black“----Remembering Good Friday, contemplate how you were lost in total darkness before you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.
“White“---Meditate on the purity of Jesus, of His Holiness and Goodness.
So, go ahead, color those Easter eggs, whether you’re five or fifty-five. Rather than pride yourself in knowing the truth of a pagan tradition, turn it around to be build a bridge rather than a wall.
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