Opinion: Let’s bring back the happy American Easter celebrations of yesteryear

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Easter decorations
Neighbors enjoying author Linda Kraus’ Easter courtship.

Where did the American Easter go?

Almost every religion and culture has some form of spring celebration. The United States traditionally held spring plantings and Easter egg hunts to celebrate the onset of spring.

In my youth, Easter was all about celebrating the start of spring and a week off from school! It was less about religion, but much more about the thought of kindness all around.

Everyone helped each other get spring gardens full of blooming flowers for this special day. Everyone’s family and friends gathered in a park or at the beach during the day to celebrate this spring.

It didn’t matter where someone was born or what their religious beliefs were. The most important thing was how many beautiful Easter eggs could be found. When all the eggs were located, a winner was announced. After the big announcement, there was wonderful food to eat. It was a fun time and stomachs full of great food.

In my diverse family, Easter food was all about sweets. There were candies and chocolate eggs for everyone. It was spring so no one seemed to care if the treats were healthy or not.

Food and drinks were available throughout the day. My Jewish aunt brought her delicious homemade hamantaschen cookies, which were matched with the appetizing homemade pastries of my French Catholic grandmother. Adults were mostly interested in my Protestant grandmother’s coolers of cold beer. She was always very popular with everyone when she arrived and got a lot of help getting her contribution to the picnic area.

Why do so few Americans still seem to have fun in the spring? It used to be that the elders watched or played with the children while the young parents started a game of football or baseball. It didn’t matter if you were a woman or a man; the main concern was getting enough people to play a good game of something. Not everyone was a winner and it didn’t matter. What mattered was just being together, having fun on the first warm days after a long winter, sitting at home.

What happened to American traditions of Easter kindness? Does anyone still help neighbors or elderly family members to plant flowers? Have you seen anyone in the park having Easter egg hunts or playing any kind of sport at a family reunion?

Did you know that only in America is there a tradition of eating honey-roasted ham for Easter dinner? This is because it was cheaper than lamb. Most American families don’t even get together for a big ham dinner anymore. They spend their day playing video games and maybe watching the traditional White House Easter egg hunt. Network TV seems to only have religious programs.

Can America return to some Easter traditions?

This year, I decided we had to start somewhere. I decided to do my part to bring back the American Easter holiday.

Flowers and decorations were purchased for my front yard. My neighbors were invited to come and help decorate. Can our hard work bring a smile to a face? Can this act influence others to bring back the American tradition of kindness, friendliness and happiness at Easter? We can only do our part… so wait and see if it takes!

Linda Kraus is a retired Southern California educator and former Navy veteran, who served overseas before ending her enlistment in San Diego. She won a bronze medal for poetry at the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.

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