Happy Easter, Happy Spring

Jesus painting, circa 1900
It is Spring in Michigan, at least by the calendar.  So far in April, we have had one day with two inches of snow, and one day of 85 degrees.  April in Michigan is unpredictable.  This Sunday is Easter, one of the holiest days in the Christian faith.  It is a day to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ.  But before the time of Jesus, at this time of year the ancient Saxons celebrated the pagan goddess of spring and offspring, Eastre.   The goddess Eastre’s earthly symbol was the hare.  Eastre’s hare became the Easter bunny.  The egg, in most early cultures, signified birth and resurrection.  The Roman’s had a proverb:  Omne vivum ex ovo, “All life comes from an egg” (Panati’s, 1987, p. 56).  The church and its missionaries turned ancient festivals and rituals into Christian observances.  Commercialism has turned these days of faith into sales opportunities.  Today you will see more images of bunnies and colored eggs than of Christ rising from the grave.

God Pask! card from Sweden.  Illustration by Jenny Nystrom.

I received a God Pask! postcard from my cousin Laila in Sweden, and an Easter card from my mother.  The Easter card my mother sent included a photo of her taken on Easter Day 1941.  She is standing in front of a lilac bush holding Peter Rabbit.  70 years later, the woman, the lilac bush, and Peter Rabbit are still in the same place.  We recreated this photo in the same spot a few years ago.  Peter Rabbit is a little worse for the wear but my mother looks just as good.  That same lilac bush blooms every year around Mothers Day.

My mother, Easter 1941

When we were little, in the 1960s, my mother would dress us in our Sunday best, complete with hats and gloves, and take us to Easter Sunday church service.  We also colored eggs and woke up to find Easter baskets full of candy.

Easter Sunday, 1966 or 1967. From left to right; my sisters Katrina, Kristine and Rebecca, myself, and my brother Nick.

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