My family often celebrated Greek Easter at the home of my parents or my mother’s sister (Bertha Pappas Pouletsos and her husband, Nick). It was always Dad’s job to carve the lamb.
When Aunt Bertha and Uncle Nick traveled from Long Island to our house in Maryland, the celebration was even more special.
I grew up living close to Aunt Bertha and Uncle Nick in the small community of Hillsdale, New Jersey. My brother and I shared many special times with our cousins, John and Louis; and to this day, we refer to our mothers as “two peas in a pod.” Mom and Bertha were the best of sisters and the best of friends.
Old photos unleash a plethora of memories for me — a lifetime of family gatherings and activities. After the deaths of Mom, Dad, Aunt Bertha and Uncle Nick, my Easter table was bereft of these beloved people. However, I found consolation in knowing that my grandparents’ table was now complete — mother and father with their sons and daughters — a loving family on earth, now reunited in heaven.
My parents and their siblings traveled to be together on holidays, and now it is my turn. Yesterday, Gary and I drove to Lewes, Delaware, to have Greek Easter with cousin Louie Pouletsos, his wife, Debbie, and their children, Nikki and Maddison. We shared memories of our parents and even poked a little fun at our mothers. We missed them.
As our parents celebrate in Easter heaven, we now carry on their traditions on earth. We cling to familial and cultural patterns as our anchor of tradition, and to the Savior as our anchor of faith.
- Our traditional Easter dinner of roast lamb symbolizes the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.
- Our recitation of “Christos Anesti,” (Christ has Risen) attests to the reality of the resurrection.
- Bright red eggs “kokkina avga” on the table symbolize the blood of Christ that was shed for each of us.
- The breaking of eggs symbolizes Christ breaking the bands of death and coming forth from the tomb. Each person takes a red egg and cracks the ends with another person. This proceeds around the table until one individual is left with an unbroken egg, and he/she can expect to have good luck throughout the year.
- Partaking of the “tsoureki,” or Easter bread, reminds us that Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. (John 6:48: “I am that bread of life.”)
It is tempting to speculate how our departed families will celebrate Easter in heaven. One thing I know is that they will: “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” (Romans 6:8)
Christos anesti to you and your family!