Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Warm Sunny Day...

To the celebrants of Easter: Happy Easter! The concept "He is Risen!" is one of hope, of a belief in an aferlife. Friends have explained to me that it's the basis of their faith, that when they die they'll abide and be reunited with beloved family and bask in Heavenly Glory. The idea of getting to meet those who have Passed Beyond is very appealing to me. I'd love to see my dad again, and mom too, I suppose. I've lost friends through the years and I'd very much like to hang out and have a beer with them (assuming a) there's beer Over There; and b) that my allergy to carbonation will disappear Over There)

And laugh if you will, but I have a List of folks I mean to look up when I get there (assuming a) that I do get there, which seems questionable; and b) that they're there too, which may depend on whether or not there IS an Over There, which begins getting into a theological discussion and we're not going there. Right now.)

So who's on your list, Dale-Harriet? Well - Shakespeare. Harriet Tubman. Queen Elizabeth I. Edgar Allen Poe. Jean Nicolet. Anna Pavlova. Truth is? The list changes, but I like thinking about it. And it might be interesting finding out what my ancestors think of me. Or not.

When I was little I had a best friend (BFF, you know) who was Catholic; she always gave up candy for Lent and sought out ways to collect it. Then, after Easter, she'd lay out this huge spread and all the kids in the neighborhood would get to share it. Now I think on it, what a neat thing to do! But I remember lying on the grass in our front yard and asking her what bunnies and chocolate eggs (and bunnies who LAY chocolate eggs, apparently) had to do with Jesus. She didn't know. We agreed that it didn't matter, and it made for lovely Easter baskets from Nana.

Since then I've read up on Oestre, the Celtic dawn goddess, who was accompanied by symbols of birth, rebirth, springtime, burgeoning nature...... I also learned that the very smart early priests figured that if they nudged Christian ideas and ideals in WITH the popular pagan celebrations, the lovely country folk would be more accepting. So many good o' mainstream Christian holidays maintain charming bits of earlier beliefs, which I think enhance them in a pleasing way. (Think mistletoe, and holly and ivy, for example.)

And of course it's Passover. Pesach. Coincidence that it always falls around Easter? Nope; Passover is on the lunar calendar. In fact, Jesus (who was, after all, a Jew) celebrated Passover himself. Of course, if you continue thinking along these lines, there is instant realization that human beings have celebrated the earliest signs of spring from the beginnings of time. At the end of winter, particularly in the early agrarian communities, not only is there the optimism of a new food supply, but the whole return of mild weather, the musical birds, the delightful foliage...being able to go out without eighteen layers of clothing and heavy boots - is very welcome. Of course, we may not be able to wear our heaviest hand-knits for a while, but it's still worth it. There are always fancy-schmancy scarves and lace shawls.

When I was kid we always celebrated Passover with relatives (my upbringing was a very traditional Conservative Judaism). My father presided over the seder; generally my uncles and male cousins sat down at dad's end of the table and read the service, and my sister and I, Mom, and the aunts and girl cousins sat at the other end. Dad read the whole Haggadah, stopping now and then to frown over his glasses at our end of the table, where there was an active conversation about styles or gossip. I was the youngest, so I got to open the door for Elijah and I will defy ANYONE, to this day, who questions that I felt a breeze pass me when he entered or saw the level of wine in his glass go down. (One of the cool parts of the seder is when the door is opened for the Prophet Elijah, who allegedly comes in and sips from a special glass of wine reserved for him. ) Judaism is nothing if not bound by tradition; every year there were comments about the state Elijah must be in when he gets home, after visiting ever single Jewish home in the world and having a sip of wine.

Since my own children were born, we've pretty much just celebrated Chanukah and Passover. Chanukah's blended in with Christmas (birthday of a Jewish kid with a Mexican name, after all) and there were no seders when the kids were little. But they always talked about their holidays at school and brought menorahs to show and that sort of thing. I never complained about their singing carols with their schoolmates or anything - I think one can sing carols with a love of music, of the beautiful melodies, without casting off thousands of years of religious heritage. (I LOVE me some Christmas carols.)

Nowadays - and since the kids were a little older - I clean out and get rid of all tref (foods not allowed during Passover) and I separate meat and milk with each meal. There are "Meat" shelves and "Milk" shelves in the fridge. (My mother had two very separate sets of dishes and silverware; Orthodox Jews sometimes have separate stoves and refrigerators, &c.) I don't buy kosher meat or replace all my tea or buy kosher dish soap, but there's only matzoh and I make noodle kugels and chicken soup (with very superior matzoh balls, you don't mind my saying).

Might I add - every year I have to get out my Jewish Housekeeping book to see what IS tref; I can never keep it straight.

Mr Dearling, raised in a much more Jewish area than I (LonG IslanDt) is very patient with it. He's missed a fine Easter dinner with delicious ham and trimmings every year -- one year Easter actually fell AFTER Passover, but we didn't have an Easter dinner that year either, as I recall. Also - he LOVES matzoh! But it's like turkey at Thanksgiving; we never think of having it during the year, although it's available.

Lilliane loves matzoh too. REALLY loves it!

Loves it enough to help herself.... one and all, Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Springtime is nigh and there's an abundance of delicious foods around.......are we not blessed?


Anonymous said...

What a lovely tribute to dual traditions! I tend to say, Bah, humbug, what a bunch of superstitions, but I still enjoy reading about them.

Randi said...

It's too bad more people don't take an interest in other people's traditions, religious observances, etc. without feeling that theirs are being attacked somehow. I very much enjoyed reading your remembrances, observations, and explanations. Thanks! Happy Day!

MollyBeees said...

What a great post DH! Happy Easter/Passover/Spring/Chocolate Bunny Day!

CTJen said...

Happy Spring, DH! We are not Jewish, but we did celebrate Passover with a batch of Latkes. Don't ask me why.

Also, I love Matzoh ball soup! I'll have to make some up in honor of you! :-)

Ryan said...

Is it my imagination or are the photos in my current blog entry VERY similar in theme to the photos in your current blog entry?

Anonymous said...

If you are interested in learning the reality of eternal life and how wonderfully the Jewish traditions point to the coming Messiah, here's a website you might like to see.

Yarnhog said...

My father was raised Muslim, my mother was raised Catholic, and my husband is a Jew. We celebrate everything. We always have Passover with friends. This year, their kitchen is being renovated, and at the last minute, it became obvious they weren't going to be able to cook. We offered to have Passover at our house, but their family wouldn't hear of it. So we cooked most of the dinner and took it to their house (along with chairs, dishes, silverware...). My Jewish husband was supposed to cook but got called into court that day, so I made two beef roasts, vegetables, and chicken soup with matzoh balls for 14 people. But it didn't occur to me to buy kosher meat. After we ate, someone asked if the chicken was kosher. I immediately responded, "Of course!" (I figured, the damage was done, why make them feel bad?) But I told this story on a Ravelry forum about Passover earlier today and got absolutely nailed by several people. Sigh.

The door did blow open during the reading of the Haggadah, though, so I guess Elijah wasn't offended.

Marjorie said...

Yarnhog, what a lovely way to celebrate. Everything! I'm Christian but I LOVE all the other celebrations and would be delighted some day to attend a family Seder. I've only been able to go to one. Time for another. Had brunch yesterday with darling twin grandbabies and their parents, and that was another sort of delight :)

Cimorine said...

A few facts about Easter I learned myself (I'm Catholic, so we're practically relatives!) :)
Easter goes by a solar and lunar calendar. it's always the first sunday after the first full moon after March 21st. full moon indicates lunar calendar, March 21st indicates solar, because of the zodiac. (Easter, so declares the Catholic Church, should always be in the sign of the ram, coenciding with the lamb.) also, bunnies and chicks and any baby animals signify new life, thus the dying of easter eggs, and the easter bunny.

As far as passover goes, my family still eats semi-traditional passover meals. (lamb. not sure if that's kosher or not, though) and home-made matzah. (again, not sure if this is truely correct, but what the hay!)

Kudos to you, my freind. Have a happy passover and thank you for wishing us a happy easter. :)

Hyacinth said...

What a beautiful entry about celebrating spring with all the different traditions and it when we can embrace other traditions as well as our own :)

Love the picture of Lilliane helping herself to matzoh :)

C'mon Cori said...

HAHA!! I wonder which is better, the matzoh or the fruit loop box. ;o) Does Lilliane actually eat the Matzoh or does she just like to chomp on it?

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