17 March 2016

Esther, Easter, Eostre, Ostara, Austro

When I first moved here to Starkville, fifteen years ago, there was a Coffee Bakery across from WalMart in a strip mall.  Leona Jean {or Jane, sometimes I couldn't tell Jenny from Ginny, so Jane and Jean were interchangeable for me until my ear picked up some of the more subtle differences of the southern speaker, even tho Leona was not from here, I think she'd been here sufficiently long enough to let the syrup settle around her vocals} was the owner and main worker, I grew to know her and her regular clientele over the first several years.  Mr Charlie was one of the oldest gentlemen I've ever met and he told me a few things that have held true over the years; including that the last frost of the year would be Easter Weekend.  Which makes sense, really, considering that Easter is the first Sunday after the full moon on or after the spring equinox.

This year, Sunday March 20th will be the coolest night on our calendar, if the current weather forecast is accurate.  It'll get down to 33 degrees fahrenheit, which will leave some nice frost rime, that will disappear as the day warms up.  Easter is the following Sunday this year {a movable feast, which is why Easter can be midMarch thru midApril}; current weather predictions are saying that it's to be about fifty degrees that night.

When I was a child, in Pennsylvania, we had Good Friday and Easter Monday off.  Folks down here in the south don't really know much about Easter Monday, I've learned over the years.  Good Friday was a somber event, tied in with Easter Sunday; most folks who were semi~religious would attend sunrise church services on Easter {and Christmas midnight mass}.  Our Easter Mondays were when most organizations had their Easter Egg Hunts, chocolate egg sales, and clearance on Easter candy and dresses in the retail stores.  It was a solid four day weekend which allowed for some family travel.

Here, I've noticed that many schools will offer week long Spring Breaks coinciding with Easter.  Spring Breaks tend to nicely divide the semester in half, if the break occurs in March.  If break isn't til April, then the first part of the spring term seems to be unbearably long with students whining and teachers grinding their teeth in response to the petulance.  This is because most schools here in the south end in the beginning or midMay at the latest.

When I lived in Pennsylvania, our school years ended in June, with college letting out near the end of May.  I remember one year when we did let out til the end of June and some seniors had to be excused from school early because their colleges were holding sports camps and freshman orientation.  I do believe that was the year we had snow under the holly tree in June.

To me, Easter was always a time of new growth on its way.  You might not yet see the spring grass poking thru the snow, or the buds on the trees; but you knew that winter was winding down and spring was soon to make its appearance...eventually.  It meant that several churches were making their cherry, crispy, peanut butter, or coconut eggs, coated with chocolate and sold on the counters at most convenience stores and gas stations.  My friend and her father always made lots and stuffed the freezer full.  They wouldn't last long, because we all had our favorites.  Mine were the peanut butter.

We'd see lots of new dresses, worn under winter coats, and there'd be lots of spring balls, dances, and concerts.  We were just happy and eager to be thru with the harsh long winter and stuffed noses, hacking coughs, dry skin, and phlegmy chests that some of us broke from cabin fever into spring fever with a rumpus that usually set us back healthwise.  Easter bunnies, chicks, and eggs, sometimes the occasional white chocolate lamb with blue candy eyes were found in baskets.  Easter hams, with cloves and pineapple rings, made their appearances at family gatherings.

Few people really cared that bunnies hiding hardboiled colored eggs made little sense from a religious point of view, but made tons of sense from a historical and traditional perspective.  Most families spread newspaper out on tables and set out cups of dyed water, along with wax crayons, and dozens of hard boiled eggs for the kids and some adults would decorate the eggs too.  As I got older, different fads came into being, stickers instead of paintbrushes and little metal egg holders instead of spoons.  It's been so long since I decorated eggs, I don't even know what is available now.  We'd have little contests like which egg was the most beautifully decorated, from the different age groups.  Then for weeks afterward, we'd be eating hard boiled eggs in our lunches, egg salad, egg salad sandwiches.  My mom would pickle eggs with red beets so they would last longer and because that's when we had the most hardboiled eggs available, eggs being on sale at the grocers for a good price.

Whatever your way of observing this occasion,
 do have a good one!

1 comment:

  1. Love the peeks back in your personal history. And, when I was attending school (here in Mississippi) we didn't get out until June either. However, the school year started the day after Labor Day. Its changed over the years for a couple of reasons, but all boils down to one thing - money.


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