Easter Blessings

This year the scene above is not allowed to take place because of the virus outbreak. Still, we may meditate upon it and note that its ultimate meaning can never be taken away. And we can also once again enjoy these words from contributor Charlottesville, which he originally wrote two years ago.

* * *

I note with some delight the quintessentially American fact that “White Christmas” and “Easter Parade,” arguably the country’s best-known songs about the two most important holidays in the Christian calendar, were both written by Irving Berlin, a Russian-born, Jewish immigrant who also gave us “God Bless America,” our unofficial, nonsectarian national hymn.

Easter is, of course, a Christian holiday (literally, a holy day) but, like Christmas, it has been folded into the broader American culture, acquiring some odd, if cheerful baggage along the way. Marshmallow chicks, chocolate bunnies, colored eggs and baskets stuffed with bright green cellophane “grass” are on offer in stores everywhere. Thankfully, “Easter Parade” seems to be the only seasonal pop song in general circulation, so at least we don’t have a month of “Rockin’ Around the Easter Basket” and “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Bunny” blaring at us while we browse the candy aisle.

As for holiday clothing, we have the Easter parade itself, either live on 5th Avenue or with Fred Astaire and Judy Garland on the screen, where ladies and gentlemen stroll down the avenue in their Sunday finest. But outside of the ushers at St. Thomas at 53rd and 5th, most of us will not be wearing the traditional morning coat and striped trousers. Where I live, the pastels usually begin to creep out from hibernation to adorn a tie, a scarf or the occasional lady’s hat. But please, no seersucker! This is Easter, not Derby Day, so that will need to wait for the last Monday of May.

Food is also part of the celebration. And while I am not averse to chocolate, whether oviform or bunny-form, my taste leans more toward pink lamb and red wine, which comprise the central part of the Easter feast I have prepared for many years and hope to carry on making for many more.

So by all means wear pastels if you dare. Have an entire Godiva bunny to yourself. Take a third slice of lamb from the roast and pour a second glass of Pinot. Baby animals, lambs, chicks and rabbits, like the pastels of flowers and the bright green of grass, are of course metaphors for spring, which is itself a metaphor for the hope of new beginnings. Passover, which begins a couple of days before Easter this years as it did on the first Easter, is also the commemoration of a new beginning, when God brought the Jewish people out of slavery into freedom. For Christians, Easter marks the surprising joy of new life and hope following what appeared to be the death of all hope at the hands of a Roman execution squad. Freedom from slavery. New life from darkest despair.

As I sit at the table with my family this Easter, I will thank God for his blessings and toast the promise of new life and hope. May God bless you all as well. — CHARLOTTESVILLE

46 Comments on "Easter Blessings"

  1. John De la Cry | April 1, 2018 at 7:39 am |

    Happy Easter to you Christian.

  2. Richard E.Press | April 1, 2018 at 8:38 am |

    Good Yontov.

  3. Good summation (and accompanying graphic), CHARLOTTESVILLE.

    I miss the childhood Easters more than Christmases.

    Happy Easter, BC

  4. Trevor Jones | April 1, 2018 at 11:51 am |

    The writing itself here is superb, great job ??

  5. EvanEverhart | April 1, 2018 at 12:16 pm |

    I sincerely enjoyed how you addressed both the Christian and Jewish aspects of this holiday and season. Jesus, of course being the Passover lamb to finally atone for all sins and to seal out final judgement, in parallel to and completion of the work of the first Seder as well as fulfillment of the Protoevangelian. Interestingly His name in Hebrew is Yeshua, which literally translated, means Salvation. Furthermore, as the Passover lambs (or Seder, as they were called and from whence the ceremony takes its name) were sacrificed by the Kohen Gadol, or High Priest, so was Jesus offered up to the Romans for execution, by the High Priest Caiaphus, literally and metaphysically to protect His people against destruction though those who offered Him and those who executed Him dis not understand the full nature of what was transpiring. Happy Easter Christian! Happy Easter and Pessach to everyone else!

  6. Happy Easter! And how I wish people still looked as pulled together for church as in the image above. Sunday best and all that. Strangely, attending religious services in sweats or sleepwear seems to be something that has not happened in the Jewish faith. When I lived in, or have since visited the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (a heavily Jewish section of the city), it was absolutely normal to observe numerous liberal or reformed families walking to, or from temple on Saturdays dressed in their very best clothing. Suits and neckties for the men and boys, dresses for women and girls. Even as late as the late 90s and early 2000s. Has this changed in the last ten years or so?

  7. Great stuff, as always, Charlottesville.

    While I love lamb, I’m happy to report that I was in the Old Dominion yesterday picking up a country ham directly from the source in Smithfield for our Easter dinner today.

    Cheers to all!

  8. Grey Flannels | April 1, 2018 at 12:59 pm |

    The illustration reflects dressing well as a sign of self-respect and respect for others.

  9. Glad to report that this morning at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Gladstone, NJ most people did indeed dress in jacket and tie, dresses, etc. Even those that did not at least dressed with a sports jacket or nice sweater. No denim or sweats in sight.

  10. Happy Easter (and Good Yontov) at all from Italy !

  11. Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum ??

  12. I think this little oddity deserves to be an Easter classic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYwY429W8Zk

    Why do the clowns come circuses out?

    Why indeed . . .

  13. God bless everyone.

    Will

  14. Charlottesville | April 1, 2018 at 8:18 pm |

    Thanks to all for the kind words and good wishes. Happy to report that suits, sport coats, and ties, including more than a few bow ties were the look of the day at the 7:45 service in Charlottesville this morning. My wife and I are enjoying a last bit of cold lamb and wine after departure of lunch guest. So much to be thankful for. If I may borrow from young Tim Cratchit’s blessing from another holiday, God bless us everyone.

  15. terrryoreilly75 | April 1, 2018 at 10:46 pm |

    A very nice sentiment, bringing the holiday back from the commercial-ness and boiling it down to its Judeo-Christian origins.

  16. Old School | April 1, 2018 at 11:45 pm |

    What a pleasure to read so many positive comments and good wishes.

  17. EvanEverhart | April 2, 2018 at 12:32 am |

    At Passover a majority wore suits and ties, or at least sport coats and ties, narry a blazer, women in fine necklaces or broaches and skirt suits or dresses and some in beautiful shawls. For Easter, mostly sport coats and blazers, a minority of suits, 75% in ties, a few women with pearls, some hats, and generally in Springy dresses. I was the only one at either with a fedora. At the seder the was no hat or coach check, surprisingly. Both services were beautiful.

  18. EvanEverhart | April 2, 2018 at 12:50 am |

    For reference, I live in the San Fernando Valley, in Los Angeles, California.

  19. A Trad Confused | April 2, 2018 at 8:20 am |

    Wonderful post, A++

  20. NaturalShoulder | April 2, 2018 at 10:40 pm |

    Another well written contribution by Charlottesville and quite apropos. We recently completed an addition on our home and moved in over the Easter weekend and my wife and I both remarked how we now have our forever home. Much to be thankful for at Mass. the weather was cool and overcast or I would have broken out the poplin.

  21. Charlottesville | April 3, 2018 at 11:26 am |

    Thanks again to all for the very nice comments.

    Paul — If you see this, I’d love to hear how your Virginia ham went. A real country ham is a bit of a production to cook, with all of the scrubbing and soaking required beforehand, but it is a special treat. And there are not many things better than thin-sliced leftover country ham on a biscuit. I also recommend Edwards Smokehouse from Surry, Virginia, a bit north of Smthfield, if you want try another country ham from Tidewater Virginia sometime, but they are all good. Edwards sells them precooked as well as the traditional dry ham in a cotton bag, and have recently been producing a Serrano-style ham that they call “Surryano,” which is intended to be eaten raw like its Spanish cousin. It is quite good with melon or on a charcuterie plate. I also strongly recommend their smoked sausage and bacon. https://www.edwardsvaham.com/ As you can tell, I am a fan.

  22. Thanks a lot Charlottesville,

    I had a nice lunch at Surf Rider today but now am preoccupied with the thought of a plate full of Smithfield ham on biscuits with a nice mustard.

    White BB OCBD, navy/white BB repp tie, older olive drab Duck Head flat front cotton pants with cuffs no break, Alden for BB cordovan loafers no socks. Spring is here, at least until the snow hits this weekend.

    Will

  23. Charlottesville | April 3, 2018 at 2:58 pm |

    Nice look, Sacksuit. With all of the pork talk, I’m reminded of Ogden Nash’s poem “The Pig.”

    The pig, if I am not mistaken,
    Supplies us sausage, ham and bacon,
    Let others say his heart is big–
    I call it stupid of the pig.

  24. Henry Contestwinner | April 3, 2018 at 6:38 pm |

    Another wonderful post. Thank you, Charlottesville, and God bless you and your family.

    Although I normally wear a tie & blazer to church, on Easter, I wear my stroller. For the second year in a row, I wore my cashmere stripe trousers; by some strange coincidence, I bought them just over two years ago (before that, I wore houndstooth check trousers with my stroller).

    For those who are not familiar with the stroller, there’s a nice image here: http://img8.imageshack.us/img8/8905/stroller.jpg

  25. Charlottesville | April 4, 2018 at 2:13 pm |

    Henry — The Stroller is a nice look. Are you the only one in your church so attired? I see them sometimes at St. Thomas in NY, but I have not seen one elsewhere.

  26. Charlottesville | April 4, 2018 at 2:13 pm |

    Also, thanks for the complement, Henry.

  27. Poison Ivy Leaguer | April 6, 2018 at 2:10 pm |

    Close,but not quite right. There was an inane Easter pop hit song recorded by Gene Autry in 1950. Check it out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XQLypAGqTc

  28. Charlottesville | April 6, 2018 at 3:53 pm |

    Dear Poison Ivy Leaguer – Thanks for the reminder. I think it was still in rotation in my childhood, but I had forgotten all about “the bunny trail” until now. There was also a cartoon called “Easter Yeggs” in which Bugs Bunny is co-opted into acting as the Easter Bunny, and sings an Easter ditty, but fortunately it did not catch on.

  29. Henry Contestwinner | April 7, 2018 at 6:08 pm |

    Yes, I am the only one who wears a stroller. In fact, I’m one of the few who wears a tie. At least our pastors wear ties.

  30. Charlottesville | April 10, 2018 at 10:10 am |

    Henry — Our Rector and assistants wear the standard Episcopal dog collar, black cassock, and white surplice or chuausble on Sunday mornings, but during the week may wear practically anything, from bow ties and blazers to shorts and flip flops. They are a good bunch though, and have been grateful recipients of some the fruits of my closet-reduction program, so I expect good things from them come next tweed season.

  31. Charlottesville | April 12, 2020 at 2:28 pm |

    Thanks for re-posting, Christian. This Easter certainly has been different, the service pre-recorded by our priest and socially distanced organist, trumpeter, one singer and 2 lectors at the otherwise empty church that normally sees more than 1,000 at the several Easter services. Today, my wife and I watched at home on a laptop. But where two or three are gathered … .

    In a bit I will be cooking lamb for two, and hoping we don’t blow away in the predicted 40 mph winds and rain.

    Wishing everyone a lovely Easter.

  32. Michael J. Lotus | April 13, 2020 at 1:30 am |

    We made the most of things this Easter. Dinner was a bit of a shambles, but I am a tough grader on myself, especially the gravy, where my own past performance, to say nothing of my mother’s, put this years concoction to shame. On the bright side, an eight year old hesitated, but then handed me his bag of jellybeans without any verbal qualification, in effect giving me carte blanche to take as many as I wanted, which was a magnanimous and difficult gesture for him, and I did not abuse his generosity, taking only a few. White OCBD, BB rep tie, khakis, beef roll loafers, and a navy sweatshirt in lieu of an apron in the kitchen, and of course got grease on the pants. Mass via Internet, not what we’d like, but much better than it might have been. Fr. Rocky Hoffman’s homily reminded us of the importance of gratitude. Quite so. Grateful for many things, not least this site and its proprietor. Lenten austerities are over, Alleluia. Onward to warmth, flowers, and even — dare we hope? — moving about the free, open world. We will never take that for granted again, will we?

  33. I’ve always enjoyed Easter more than any other holiday. This year, just another day. Took a drive to a neighboring town to deliver a couple plants to sister in law. Just left the plants by the door, waved to sis. Streets were deserted. The main street in my town only saw a couple families walking their dogs.

    Strange times, indeed. Reminds me of episodes of the apocalyptic series, The Twilight Zone. The end of the world, maybe. The end of life as we knew it, probably.

    Wishing everyone the best, Happy Easter, Good Yontov, or just Good Sunday to all.

  34. I get the sense Charlottesville is as fogey in his tastes, leanings, and habits (of mind and spirit) as anybody who’s been posting throughout the past few years. Which is another way of saying: his posts are always most welcome.

    Charlottesville, the devil, so to speak, is in the details. Of all the surplices available to clergy who actually care, one and one only remains full-on fogey:

    https://www.wippell.com/Online-Shop/Clergy-Outffiting/Surplices/Mens/Style-No-7-Surplice.aspx

    I’d argue even this depiction is off. Ideally the surplice gathers high at the neck, flooding the collar, and extends to the bottom hem of the cassock. And let’s hope (pray?) they’re wearing Anglican (not Roman) cassocks underneath the “old Wippell’s #7.”

    Is it properly High Church if you’re not receiving sherry (Harvey’s Bristol Cream, please)? And let’s not forget about the Geneva Bands (tabs)– “full Fleming Rutledge,” who is maybe the fogiest of all living, breathing American women:

    https://soundcloud.com/virginiaseminary/the-rev-fleming-rutledge-thursday-may-16-2019

    Since all good fogeys are Keysnians (my declaration–and, by golly, Keynes himself was an A+ fogey), this moment for our country–when everybody’s becoming a thrifty socialist (bailout…after bailout…after bailout) isn’t all bad.

    Happy Easter…and Eastertide, all.

  35. sp:
    “Keynsian”

  36. Old School | April 13, 2020 at 8:46 am |

    S.E.,

    “Keynesian”, actually.

  37. Charlottesville: how nice it was to re-visit our colloqy about *real* Virginia hams! And I’ll update it by saying that, for Easter dinner this year I instead grilled a couple of Frenched racks of lamb chops. My children were leery at first, but after one bite they raved: I managed to get them nearly blackened on the outside, and as pink and tender on the inside as a beef loin. I suspect that, going forward, Dear Old Dad may have to lobby pretty hard to go back to ham.

    And let me also take a moment to compliment S.E. on his Keynes/socialism/fogeyism quip above: a little wit goes a long way, and some of the commentators here should take note.

    Happy Easter, brothers.

  38. Charlottesville | April 13, 2020 at 11:02 am |

    Very nice jellybean story, Michael. And I share your hopes for tomorrow. As you say, I hope we will not take things for granted. But, I am reminded of the song by the recently deceased John Prine, “That’s the Way That the Wold Goes ‘Round” which notes our human tendency to ignore the bad and go blithely on once a crisis is over. Listen hear if you are interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnMNBTc1DQU . I have been a fan of his since college. He was a great talent and his death is a great loss.

    S.E. I suppose I may have been born a fogey. And I share your admiration for Fleming Rutledge. Her magnum opus The Crucifixion is a master work of Christian theology. I almost feel that I know her, since our Rector is a friend of hers and she sometimes figures in his conversation and sermons. I understated that she is nearly deaf these days, but still going strong.

    Paul – A grilled rack, charred but rare, is the apotheosis of lamb. I went with a leg this year and whittled it down from more than 7 pounds to 3 good-sized pieces plus a pound or so of trimmings for the grinder or a stew. I braised the shank end, on the bone, for Easter dinner and froze the rest for another day. Plenty of leftovers for a shepherd’s pie one night, since there were only two of us at the table this year.

    I heartily recommend Richard Press’s “Birth of a Salesman” at the J. Press site, and not just because my town features in it prominently. It is not to be missed. Here is a link: https://jpressonline.com/blogs/news/birth-of-a-salesman?utm_campaign=TTN%3A%20Birth%20of%20a%20Salesman%204.11%20%28Kv9a8E%29&utm_medium=email&utm_source=email&_ke=eyJrbF9lbWFpbCI6ICJkYmd1bnNhbHVzQG1zbi5jb20iLCAia2xfY29tcGFueV9pZCI6ICJNaGZiMzQifQ%3D%3D

    Happy Easter and Good Yontov!

  39. Yes— Fleming thrives. Upward and onward. We shared dinner a year or so ago. Ever the quick wit; ever gracious; ever hopeful.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uIGTfvjA9bA

  40. Inspired by gents of I-S, I was guilty of laying out my old Orvis navy 3/2 patch pocket blazer, vintage Sero pink OCBD, BB#4 rep tie, cuffed and pleated Nordstrom gray flannels belted with small sterling western buckle and Florsheim black tassel mocs with RL argyle socks, not to actually be worn this year, but in memory of Easters long passed. After local online church service, a TCM Biblical cable movie epic and an inspirational MC ride, donned tan Wranglers, blue/white awning striped snap front and Weejuns with Wigwams for wife’s ham dinner. Rustic Presbyterian country folk, former university ag student (In the 60s, they called our dressed up style Ivy League, but we just wore everyday cowboy) and career Extension professor. Klamath Falls, OR

  41. NaturalShoulder | April 13, 2020 at 10:04 pm |

    Easter certainly was not the same this year but we must make the best of the situation. I realized participating in Mass via youtube opens up an opportunity to participate in another church’s service rather than my local church and enjoyed the Mass from Sioux Falls. I did not see the need to don a suit or coat and tie at home, but did sport a pink uni stripe OCBD in honor of Easter.

  42. Henry Contestwinner | April 17, 2020 at 12:05 pm |

    I am late to the party (as usual), but this was a great blast from the past. Thank you again, Charlottesville, for your wonderful observations.

    As noted above, I normally wear a stroller on Easter Sunday. This year, I made do with just the fancy shirt (yellow striped body with contrast cuffs & collar) and wedding tie (Glenurquhart check). Not Ivy, but not everything needs to be.

  43. Carmelo Pugliatti | April 18, 2020 at 2:35 pm |

    Christian,I would like to specify that my question was was not intended to bring the topic on the elitist side.
    In other words was not “Oh,blame the main street ivy for for having vulgarized all”.
    My suspicion is another.
    I suspect that the Ivy heyday have embalmed the ivy style in a series of coded rules,as “if is not undarted is not Ivy”,or “if have not flat front is not Ivy”, that at the end have prevented that “state of flux” (call it evolution) of which you talk about the 30s “ivy”.
    Rules were needed for neophytes in 50s, but i have fear that in this way the pedantry had win over the spirit.
    So, if the American industry had found a different main style in 50s,is possible that a undisturbed “ivy” would have remained in a interesting “state of flux”,and would have survived better.

  44. Charlottesville | April 20, 2020 at 10:10 am |

    Thanks, Henry. I hope you are doing well. The white collar and cuffs may not be Ivy, but it is certainly a classic look, and one that I practice myself fairly often.

    While we’re on the topic of non-Ivy clothing, I recently acquired a hard-bodied bowler (or derby if you prefer) in perfect condition for $29. It is marked Made in England for Brooks Brothers. The label lists Brooks stores only in NY and Boston, and the original box says “Derby 1942” in pencil, which sounds about right. Of course it would be costume these days and, as with my BB boater (which I bought new sometime in the 80s), I won’t have many opportunities to wear it, but I like seeing it on the hat shelf.

  45. Charlottesville, I bought a BB boater new in the 80s as well. Have not worn it in years. Where do you wear yours? It’s described in the Spring 1982 BB catalog as follows: “Classic straw boater has 2″ brim and striped grosgrain band. Natural. Sizes 6 7/8 to 7 5/8. C651, $40 ($2.50).” Even in those days it was bordering on costume, the sort of thing you wore to a 1920s themed garden party or a fraternity convention.

    I checked the BB web site and a boater is no longer offered, although a derby hat is!

  46. Charlottesville | May 5, 2020 at 1:31 pm |

    Rojo – Sounds like the same hat. I wore mine on occasion at picnics, garden parties and similar events, and as you say, it was more or less costume even in the 80s. At the 1984 Washington & Lee Mock Convention (a W&L tradition every 4 years to select the out-of-power party candidate), I wore it with a “Nixon Now More Than Ever” bumper sticker attached, despite the fact that he was long out of power, disgraced, not running, and the convention was for selecting the Democratic candidate. Again, pure costume, along with the unlit cigar and the leather-covered flask in my pocket, and intended as a joke. All of that being said, I would welcome a garden party where I could combine my ancient boater with a seersucker suit or tropical-weight navy blazer and cream linen pants, and white bucks or spectators. One needs an understanding circle of friends to get away with that outfit these days, but I think I know a dozen or so people who would get in the spirit of the thing. Might be a good coming-out celebration when we get past the lockdown.

    I was surprised that Brooks still has a Christys derby/bowler in stock, although it looks like they may have only one left, and even on sale it costs roughly 10 times what my antique cost me. A bit much unless one has ample opportunity to wear one, but it would look pretty on the hatrack. Now I need a silk opera hat, but they are even scarcer than the derby, and more expensive.

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