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.
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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