I have so many memories from childhood of the events surrounding the Feast of Easter. In those days the Lenten fast and abstinence from meat was observed each day. Before Ash Wednesday dad would go to the Pioneer Sausage Company on Rice Street and buy an 18-inch long hard salami. He would hang it from the light fixture in the kitchen. The smell of that salami filled the kitchen throughout Lent – it was truly a constant and physical act of penance and anticipation of Easter. In those days Lent ended at noon on Holy Saturday and dad would climb upon a kitchen chair and with a butcher knife cut the salami down to the applause of all – it was the stuff of sandwiches for lunch, the first moments of the Easter Season.
As a child I was taken to Easter Sunday Mass at the Church of Saint Francis de Sales, my grandparent’s parish, a German national parish. As neighbors walk to and from Mass on Easter, they would great each other: Gelaub sei Jesus Christus! En ewikiet Amen. One would say: “May Jesus Christ be praised!” And the response was “Forever and ever, Amen.” It was the popular, neighborhood, vernacular Easter greeting.
My parent brought a mason jar to church on Easter and took some of the blessed Easter water. Mother would use some of it in making the Easter breakfast coffee.
Of course there were the obligatory Easter Eggs and Easter baskets – full of chocolates and jellybeans. There were never any black jellybeans. Dad like the licorice jelly beans and kept them to himself. When cleaning the house after his death I found stashes of licorice jellybeans he had squirreled away.
What Easter memories do you have? Perhaps you might share them with children and grandchildren this Easter. What Easter traditions do you want to pass on? These cultural practices enrich the Feast and Season.
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Fr. Steve Adrian