5 Easy Ways To Celebrate Easter

In my Southern family, Easter always comes with a big celebration. Relatives come to town, huge spreads of food are prepared and the Easter baskets are packed full of treats.

Now, living far away and having only a husband and a dog to celebrate with, the epic festivities seem like a lot of work for just a couple people to enjoy. It’s easy to get complacent about carrying on customs, but each year when I make the effort, I’m never disappointed. Although I may be a far-flung Southerner, I can always take traditions with me wherever I live to make it feel like home.

Here’s five easy ways to celebrate Easter that will have you feeling like you’re back home without a lot of fuss.

1. Dye Easter eggs. This easy activity will have you feeling like a kid again as soon as you try the old half-pink, half-blue dunking method. The eggs in this ancient activity are meant to symbolize new life, reminding Christians of Christ’s resurrection. Ukrainian customs hold great significance in each color of Easter eggs:Here’s five easy ways to celebrate Easter that will have you feeling like you’re back home without a lot of fuss.

White: purity and innocence
Yellow: wisdom, recognition, harvest and reward
Orange: strength, endurance and ambition
Red: happiness, hope or passion
Green: sign of spring, hope and innocence
Blue: good health
Purple: royal color, faith and trust
(Ukrainian Easter by Mary Ann Woloch Vaughn)

5 Easy Ways To Celebrate Easter

2. Eat. In my family, Easter Sunday Mass is always followed by a delectable lunch. Ham was on the menu when we were young, but as everyone got older and the family grew in members, fried chicken from the grocery deli took its place. Either entrée is enjoyable with sides of potato salad and ambrosia salad.

3. Stage an Easter egg hunt. Whether you have kids or you’re a kid at heart, hunting Easter eggs is a surefire way to add a little excitement to your Sunday. Fill plastic eggs with traditional candy, love notes, jokes, money or other fun trinkets to suit the hunters’ taste and bring smiles all around.

5 Easy Ways To Celebrate Easter

Photo: Maida Owens louisianafolklife.org

4. Knock Eggs. Whether you call it egg tapping, tucking, pocking or pâquing, this tradition is a competitive sport in Louisiana. My mother taught my brothers and me when we were young and the tournament-style competition has been an Easter ritual ever since. The rules vary by region, but my family’s are simple: knock the pointy ends of two hardboiled Easter eggs until one of them cracks. The unbroken egg goes on until the last intact egg is standing. Don’t be shy about getting into it. Since 1956, people in Marksville, La. gather in the courthouse square after Easter Sunday church services to compete. Some families even make brackets and keep score.

5 Easy Ways To Celebrate Easter5. Go to church. I’ve lived a lot of places, most of them hundreds or thousands of miles away from my tight-knit family. Going to church has always made me feel close to them no matter how far away I may be geographically. Raised Catholic, there is a comfort in knowing my family members are hearing the same scriptures and saying the same prayers as I am at Mass 2,100 miles away.

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Spanish moss attracts more than just Southerners

There I was, standing in the checkout line at WalMart in Bend, OR.

I looked like a Creole doomsday prepper with a grocery cart full of canned goods; mostly black-eyed peas and French cut green beans. I live in the sticks. When you live way out of town, you have to stock up on certain necessities – my household is never without black-eyed peas.

We do silly things sometimes when we miss home. | StayingSouthern.net

Spanish moss is a perennial epiphytic herb. It is not Spanish, nor a moss, but a flowering plant.

Two checkout lanes over to my left, I saw a woman about my age. In her cart, I spotted a MiracleGro package that said, clear as day, “SPANISH MOSS.”

My heart stopped.

My thoughts began to swirl:

She must be from the South.

Only someone who is desperately homesick for the South would try to grow Spanish moss in this high desert climate. Maybe I should try it in my garden this year.

She looks really happy and smiley. And she’s curled her hair and wearing a lot of eyeliner. Yep. Definitely a Southerner.

She probably just moved here from South Carolina and misses home.

We do silly things sometimes when we miss home. | StayingSouthern.net

(janeluriephotography.wordpress.com)

Hmmm. She might not be very bright if she plans on hanging Spanish moss from Ponderosa pines. I won’t hold that against her. We do silly things sometimes when we miss home.

And boy, do we.

I heaved my cart full of canned goods out of line and pushed it over to the woman.

“Excuse me, miss?” I said.

She interpreted my salutation as a request to get out of my way. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she said as she began to wheel her cart backwards.

“I am just wondering… Are you trying to grow Spanish moss here?” I asked.

She worked for a daycare and this week’s craft project was constructing fairy houses. Apparently, fairies have roofs made of Spanish moss. They must be Southern, too.

“Oh,” I said.

I retreated back to my checkout lane.

It’s true – we do silly things sometimes when we miss home, like approach strangers in WalMart. But in my defense, in the South, asking a complete stranger about their gardening plans is perfectly acceptable. Southerners go on living like they are in the South, even if they’re not.

We do silly things sometimes when we miss home. | StayingSouthern.netMy attempt to find a kindred Southerner may have been thwarted, but it won’t stop me from being just as friendly in the future. It also won’t deter me from possibly building some small, Spanish moss-covered houses to attract Southern fairies.

A Wyoming take on “Virginia’s Holiday Finest”

I am crazy about seasonal wreaths. My taste swings back and fourth between simplistic and “more is better” depending on the season and my resources at the time.

Resources? Yes, resources. See, I’m a stern penny pincher. Most of what I use to make my front door décor is stuff I have hoarded away in my “craft closet” for the last couple of years I have actually had an extra closet in my house.

If I need something that’s not in the ribbon-and-glitter-packed closet, I scour the clearance aisles at places like WalMart and Tuesday Morning.

I picked up this sweet little autumn-themed gem at WalMart for $1.99 with the intention of using it for parts during my next crafting frenzy.

Look for "red-tagged" items on the clearance aisle.

Look for “red-tagged” items on the clearance aisle.

Then, I fell in love with this wreath in Southern Living:

Southern Living magazine is where I turn to for a great deal of my Southern inspiration.

Southern Living magazine is where I turn to for a great deal of my Southern inspiration.

I love when my go-to sources for Southern style blend masculine aspects of the outdoors with charming regional classics. It’s a balance I’m always trying to strike since my husband would put antlers on everything if I agreed to it.

To achieve my rendition of “Virginia’s Holiday Finest,” I had to improvise. Living in Wyoming at the time, I had no access to on-the-stem cotton. I did, however, have pheasant feathers from a friend’s recent hunt, conifer boughs and whitetail deer antlers.

I dismantled the bargain wreath. I added spruce boughs from our Christmas tree, artificial berries (and a faux bird) my office was discarding from past holiday decorations, spruce cones from my yard and a pair of shed antlers I found ages ago hanging in a sage brush.

This was the final product:

Wyoming offers similar, if not the same, materials necessary to make up this cheery holiday porch decor.

Wyoming offers similar, if not the same, materials necessary to make up this cheery holiday porch decor.

The wreath brought a big smile to my face every time I walked up to my front door. It reminded me that even though I may be far from my Southern home, a few touches and a little effort here and there will make it seem a little closer.