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Easter, Old and New

As Easter approaches, I like to consider how the holiday has changed during my lifetime:

  • When I was a youngster in North Dakota, I used to accompany my mother to a downtown department store a few days before the holiday. There we would select a new dress, hat, gloves, and white shoes for me to wear on Easter. Many of the other girls in my neighborhood did the same thing with their mothers. Today, the downtown department stores are all gone, and no children wear hats and gloves to church. You do see a lot of spring dresses at Easter.
  • Easter Sunday church service was a big deal. Everybody went. In North Dakota with all its Scandinavian settlers, many attended the Lutheran Church. Nowadays, we smile about those people who are C&Es (Christmas and Easter worshippers only), but even their numbers seem to be dwindling. Many people today do not bother to attend church at all on Easter.
  • School was out on Good Friday and Easter Monday. This gave us time to travel to visit grandparents for the holiday if we liked. School calendars today have a spring break instead of marking the Easter holiday. Many districts deliberately avoid scheduling their break at Easter so as to avoid the appearance of favoring religion.
  • We never had Easter egg hunts. The Easter weather in the places I grew up was often too terrible to have an outdoor activity. Yet even had we lived in a balmy climate, I cannot envision my parents setting up an Easter egg hunt for us.
  • We did follow the tradition of the Easter rabbit and colored eggs. I followed this pattern with my own children. After they were grown, my husband and I stopped dyeing eggs, but we have continued the Easter baskets for ourselves. Today, they are typically filled with gourmet candy, and maybe Peeps for him.
  • I do not remember having flowers around at Eastertime. My mother and brothers had allergies, and we did not have plants in the house. Today, I always get an Easter lily.

We have made our plans for this year’s Easter celebration. For the first time in several years, I have a new dress. In accordance with modern fashion, I will not accessorize it with hat and gloves. We will attend church without our family because we all belong to different denominations.

The one thing that will provide some continuity with the past is our Easter meal. Family members will come to our house for dinner. As we have since I was a child, we will serve ham and potatoes with lots of side dishes. I am looking forward to it.

Happy Easter, everyone, in whatever way you celebrate.

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