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:
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)
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.
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. 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.