Happy Easter morning! I hope that this morning greets you with a sense of hope and renewal, whatever your traditions and beliefs.
I’m waking slowly with a cup of coffee and some excellent hot cross buns. Once everyone in the house is up and dressed, we’ll be attending (virtually) an Easter service from Greyfriar’s Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland, and possibly a second from the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Easter is, for us, a spiritual holy day, but also a cultural holiday, repleat with traditions and fond memories.
I didn’t grow up eating hot cross buns on Easter. That’s a tradition I picked up while living in Yorkshire as an adult. My Easter memories from an American childhood involved Easter Egg hunts, church services with rousing hymns, and (at a young age) matching Easter outfits.
Years after our time in England, we lived briefly in Germany and enjoyed the Easter markets in a few local towns there. Although not as common as Germany’s Christmas markets, the Easter markets were charming and filled with lovely wooden crafts, as styled in Erzgebirge– life size scenes of bunnies as families gardening or cooking meals, as school teachers and children, all wonderful and whimsical. And, of course, you could buy small wooden bunny crafts, delicately painted egg ornaments for an Easter tree, or delicious food.
Perhaps my favourite Easter abroad was spent in a small town in Provence– St. Saturnin les Apts. The beautiful church in town was filled with French families . . . and my own family. My school girl French could only pick up so much of the meaning of the words uttered in that service– but enough to fill in what I know of the season, the songs, and the joyous families. I almost think it was more profound, and I was more fully present, because I grasped harder for meanings and was more attuned to the people around me greeting friends and family in words that I little understood but with emotion that resonated deeply.
And I remember one touching French custom –as a sign of mourning, churches refrain from ringing their bells in the time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Children are told that the bells have grown wings and flown to Rome, where they are blessed by the Pope. On Easter morning, the bells return, bringing chocolate for the children and ringing gloriously!
I carry all of these Easter traditions and memories with me and unpack them like a treasured Easter basket each Easter morning. They are beautiful and delicious and strike a chord of wonder in me every year. They don’t upstage the spiritual import of the holiday, but they mark the road along the holiday path. They provide the landmarks that excite the senses, that tell me, it’s almost here, the long awaited day! And when the day dawns, the Easter baskets are ready, the hot cross buns will nourish, the bells have returned to their towers and are ringing, and, even in those years when the words of the clergy fall on my ears like a language I can’t fully comprehend, even then, I know enough landmarks to know where I have arrived. He is risen! There is hope despite the grief. There is light that has shown in the dark. There is renewal.
The old rules are gloriously broken and, today, there will be jam.
*If you find yourself needing a new tradition to add to your Easter basket, perhaps you could try this yummy recipe for hot cross buns from Nigella Lawson— it doesn’t disappoint!
Wishing you a glorious Easter and the blessings of a year of hope and renewal!