My husband exhorted us this morning in his sermon that it is time for Christians to rev up the Easter celebrations because at His resurrection, Christ recreated the world. Therefore, Easter is the greatest, most cosmic-shaking event ever. So he suggested we make our Easter celebration even BIGGER than Christmas. You’ll have to listen to the sermon yourself if you want to follow his argument. But immediately after church many of us ladies were thinking about what we could do to make Easter more of a celebration in our families.
I have great childhood memories of Easter. My mother always made (or bought) us girls a whole new Easter outfit. We had new shoes and a matching purse (usually white patent leather), lacy socks, a pretty new spring dress with a slip to go with it, and a hat. We were filled with anticipation. My dad always bought us girls (and Mom of course) a corsage. We colored eggs a few days before, and Easter morning we hunted down our Easter baskets and had a big Easter breakfast.
After church Mom prepared a big dinner and the table was set with the crystal, china, and sterling. The candles were lit. And we were not by any means the only people doing this. Everybody got a new Easter outfit. My brothers wore suits and ties, even at age three. Everyone was feasting after church. And Dad presided at our table, praying and carving the meat.
Sometime in the sixties or seventies we had a pietistic revolt against such things. I don’t know exactly where it came from, but it seemed more “holy” to ditch the Easter finery and treat Easter Sunday pretty much like all the other Sundays. In spite of the trend, I always tried to get our children new Easter outfits, though I didn’t always manage it as well as my mother had. I remember one year, when they were ages 1, 3, and 5, she made our three children matching sailor outfits! And we did all the egg coloring and hunting with our kids, as well as feasting on an Easter dinner.
Today it is hard to find pretty spring dresses for the girls. But it can still be done. There is something really delightful about it. Jesus recreated the world; spring is coming and the world is waking up. We have left winter behind and look forward to spring. We change our dark heavy clothing for light cheery Spring colors. I believe it is a wonderful tradition to dress everyone in new clothes to celebrate a new world with a risen Lord.
Now I realize that when the women all decide to buy Easter dresses for their girls (and themselves) there is the danger that some will go overboard. They will put their daughters in outlandish ruffles and bonnets and wear hats that are the size of Rhode Island. That kind of behavior is what prompted the last pietistic revolt. I understand all that. But certainly we can redeem this tradition and do it with humility and rejoicing and without competition or vainglory. And I am not prepared to promote hats….though I certainly don’t object to it.
And as far as the eggs go, my daughter learned while she’s been in England that this tradition has a very practical beginning after all. Since the people didn’t eat eggs during Lent, and because the hens kept right on laying anyway, they had a big surplus of eggs by Easter. So, being keen on finding a good use for so many extra eggs, they turned it into a party and colored the eggs and hid them to delight the children. Children are still delighted by such things, and I say, let them be! What could our good God possibly object to if we want to boil, color, and hide eggs for our children? I never met a child who didn’t adore it!
I can’t think of anything more appropriate for Easter. So ladies, it’s not too late. You have a week. Make it a party at your house. Jesus is risen! Let’s not be long-faced about such an earth-shaking event! Let’s get the spring clothes out. Buy yourself something new. Get the children new clothes. Make a feast for your family and invite your friends. Fill your house with chocolate eggs and sugar cookies. C.S. Lewis comments somewhere about his admiration for the poetry of a little boy, who said, “Chocolate eggs and Jesus risen!”
If you don’t have any Easter traditions yet, then go ahead and start some now. If it’s too much to do it all this year, then just begin with the food: a leg of lamb, a ham, or a turkey, and make it festive. Make some strawberry or lemon meringue pies. Or maybe you prefer carrot cake. At our house deviled eggs are a must, and Rachel and Luke bring the jello eggs to serve right along side the potato salad. The kids are enchanted.
So there you go. I’ve given you my pep talk. Get ready for the big event. Whoop it up! He is risen indeed!