Tomorrow marks my favorite day of the year (no, not my birthday): Easter.
Even as a child, Easter has always meant more to me than just about the Easter bunny, chocolate, or candy. Don’t get me wrong: I always made sure I had fun, but I was raised to know that the holiday was about so much more.
I come from a wonderful family that have taught me so many special traditions during this time of year. To us, Easter is not just a day. It’s a season. Starting on Ash Wednesday and lasting until Easter Sunday, my family and I do various activities that showcase the true meaning of Easter.
Every Friday during Lent our Church holds Stations of the Cross.
My mom and I have gone for years and continue to go. This is something that I cherish greatly, and at times, have taken it for granted. Doing this together creates a special bond that only my mom and I can understand. I will always hold this close in my heart, and, when the time comes, will carry on with my children.
Once we enter Holy Week, our traditions are in full bloom. We begin by attending mass on Holy Thursday. Then on Good Friday, the cooking and baking begin. Since I come from an Italian and Polish heritage, the food is beyond delicious to say the least.
First my mom will begin making sausage pie. That’s an Italian tradition (my dad loves it!) Then, my mom will bake another Italian food, Easter Dolls.
And, boy are they delicious! They are quite time consuming, but so fun to make. Each year, I watch my mom make them & attempt to help out as much as possible 🙂
After Good Friday liturgy, my family and color our eggs. (Hint: Forget the store bought stuff, food coloring works amazingly!)
Ever since I can remember, my grandparents always came back to our house to color eggs. Recently, my grandma taught me how to use beeswax to paint the eggs. That is totally a Polish custom, and trust me, they look beautiful when they’re completed! I’ll always thank my grandma for passing that on to me 🙂
Holy Saturday is by far my favorite day of Holy Week! My parents, grandparents and I all take our food to be blessed. That too, is a Polish custom. We head to Holy Trinity Church which is a beautiful, cathedral church in Utica.
Each year, we gather in the gymnasium at the school next door to the church to get the food blessed. People line up their baskets filled with various special foods and the Priest says a Prayer and blesses them with Holy Water.
After the blessing is done, we head inside the Church to sit in Prayer for a bit. Holy Trinity is truly unique – not only in its looks, but in its customs as well. Starting immediately after the Body of Christ is placed in the tomb, St. Michael’s Lancer’s stand guard until Easter Sunday morning when Christ is Resurrected. It truly is a beautiful and awe-inspiring sight.
After we say a few Prayers, my mom and I head to Chester’s Flower Shop in Utica. Now, this is neither a Polish or Italian custom, but it is so fun to do. If you’ve never been to Chester’s before, you must go – especially at Easter. They have the most beautiful flowers (my favorites being lilies and tulips!) They also have some precious little duckies that are worth checking out too 🙂
We end the day with Holy Saturday Mass, which is so amazing. The blessing of the Holy Water, the blessing of the fire, it all is just so peaceful.
On Sunday, of course we start the morning with Easter Sunday Mass at our Church, St. Marks.
Starting Easter morning with mass, celebrating Jesus’ Resurrection is a great start to the day. There’s something about it that signifies new birth, new life and gives such a sense of hope. How can you not be happy and rejoice??
Of course, we end our holiday with a big, family dinner filled with foods of all sorts.
As I said, the sausage pie and Easter dolls are part of my Italian heritage. Kielbasa, the butter lamb, potato salad, rye bread, babka and beet soup are all part of the Polish heritage. Everything is so yummy. It’s like a second Thanksgiving for us!
I posted this to simply give you all an insight into some of the wonderful traditions that Utica has. I also posted this because I am so thankful for my family, and for the strong traditions that we hold. These things will always mean more to me than any material item and I will always follow them as I get older and eventually have my own family. Some people don’t hold onto traditions, and I honestly don’t know why. I think they really bring a family closer together.
So, what do you do to make your holiday special?