As we celebrate Easter this year, we are certainly under very different circumstances. Nonetheless, it is also a good time to celebrate now that we are more at home; however, what is Easter? Why is it celebrated with the Easter bunny in some places but with Jesus Christ in others? To be honest, I didn’t know much about this either.
Growing up in Costa Rica, I learned one part of the story: how Easter is the remembrance of the life and death of Jesus Christ, and the celebration of his resurrection on Easter Sunday. Easter is called Holy Week or ‘Semana Santa’ and throughout the week families gather and watch movies like The Passion of Christ, The Gospel, and many other religious series. Many businesses close on Thursday and Friday of that week, and it is a week of vacation at all schools and universities.
Sunday is a day of celebration and many go to church, have family gatherings and cook delicious traditional meals like empanadas de chiverre y pina, which are turnovers filled with a watermelon-looking squash or pineapple. Arroz con leche or rice pudding is very popular as well during this time.
In every town, the Catholic Church organizes processions that take place throughout the week. The processions are a reenactment of Jesus going to the cross, featuring the Roman soldiers and other important characters from the story. Participants dress accordingly, and spectators walk with them to watch what happens while they pray and mourn in remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus.
When I moved to the U.S., I saw Easter bunny chocolates everywhere and kids doing Easter egg hunts. I was confused at first but I learned a lot about how they celebrate Easter here. Spring has always symbolized new life and rebirth, and the rabbit is seen as a symbol of reproduction for its fertility and ability to quickly reproduce. According to an ancient legend, the Easter bunny lays, decorates, and hides eggs as a symbol of new life during this time. Easter Sunday is a colorful spring day, great to paint eggs the best way you can. Many parents prepare an Easter egg hunt for their kids in their backyard, who eagerly search for as many eggs as possible hidden all over. Families also join Sunday services at church where they celebrate together.
There are delicious dishes prepared during this time such as hot cross buns, which are sweet rolls stuffed with raisins or currants marked with a cross on the top. Another special meal is Easter ham. It is baked with pineapples and cherries around to give it a sweet flavor.
I am really looking forward to trying all the delicious food and experiencing Easter in a new way this year. Now that we are all spending more time at home, we can take in this special time and celebrate with our loved ones, cook delicious meals, or even try new recipes from another country’s Easter traditions.
I really hope this blog finds you safe and well and that you have a great Easter with your loved ones.
Valeria Saborio is from Costa Rica and is pursuing her Industrial and Systems Engineering degree at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada.