BY MONSIGNOR JAMIE GIGANTIELLO
If you ask Christians what their favorite holiday is, many will quickly answer “Christmas.” People love the lights and trees, the presents and songs, the red poinsettias and gold bows. However, as much as I too love Christmas, Easter is my favorite. Easter Sunday and the week before, which we call Holy, reminds me every year why that baby was born on Christmas day. Jesus was born and lived for a reason, so that he may die and rise for all of us.
Easter is my favorite time of year because we know that the warmth of the spring and summer are approaching and the darkness and cold of winter are behind us. It is a time of change, rebirth, renewal and life. The warm pastel colors of the clothing people wear and flowers that are in bloom give me energy. These signs of life remind me that our God is a living God, who is always there to lift us out of the darkness.
Easter is my favorite also because it is a time for family to come together with no strings attached. There are no pressures to buy the perfect gift, or have the most lights on the house, or decorate the tree better than last year. Families get dressed up for Easter Mass and attend as a family. The Catholic Church offers believers a dramatic retelling of the Easter story through the liturgies, music and decorations of Holy Week. It is through the traditions of the Church that we too walk in the steps of Christ to His crucifixion so that we may likewise enjoy the rewards of His resurrection.
When families return home from Mass and come around the table for Easter dinner, they often recall those that are no longer with them. Maybe they remember the pies that grandma made, or the fruit that grandpa use to ask for. While most of us enjoy a particularly American Christmas and Thanksgiving, no matter what our ethnic heritage, the family traditions of Easter for many have retained their cultural identity. This is most obvious in the food that we eat. On Christmas we eat duck and on Thanksgiving we eat turkey, but for Easter every table is different. We may eat rabbit or lamb, pasta or ham, but the miracle of the day is that we are able to celebrate the same thing in different ways. This also allows us to recall our roots and the very basics which ground us as a family.
Easter is my favorite because every dish has a meaning and a story. Recipes are handed down which tie food and faith together as reminders of the important things that sustain a family physically and spiritually. Children eat the candy from their Easter baskets while Charlton Heston stars on our home television screens in “The Ten Commandments,” 56 years later.
Yes, Easter is my favorite holiday because it is my favorite holyday. It is the day which we commemorate just how much God loves us all and reminds that in turn we must love each other.