USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘easter’
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Naciemento de JesusChristo

During Christmas time, the whole family gets together right before eating dinner. In this family ceremony, everybody gets a Jesus looking treat, usually something the mom of the family makes, and everybody then kisses Jesus on the forehead and then eats the head. It’s to symbolize Jesus and the Holy Spirit being in you. This always happens between the hours of 2am-3am after Christmas Eve. The time is important, because that is the time in which it connects to the “witch hour” where Evil is supposedly the strongest.

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Eloisa is a Michoacan born lady who has lived in Arkansas since she has been a little girl. She used to be really religious, but after being opened up to human rights, and mostly women rights, she has taken a step back and tried to analyze everything to decide on what she can really identify as part of her.

Customs
general
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Paschal Greeting – Greek Orthodox

“Because I’m Greek Orthodox, we have a service the night before Easter. What we do is, the priest turns off all the lights in the church and then we have candles. And we say ‘Christ has risen and truly he has risen’ in like eight different languages. ‘Khristos Anesti. Alithos Anesti. Christ has risen. Truly he has risen.’* and all these different forms of languages for about an hour and a half. It’s just a symbolized of I think inclusivity. We just wear our church clothes. Like my mom always says, ‘Dress as though you’re going to God’s house.’ Everyone is in more ‘happier’ colors since it’s Easter”

My informant is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church. She is deeply connected to her church and still practices her religion faithfully. I thought it was interesting to hear how her family celebrates Easter because I personally am Presbyterian, which is a branch of Christianity. We only celebrate Palm Sunday and Good Friday prior to Easter. I have never heard of a celebration being held the night before Easter. This service is referred to as the Paschal Greeting in Greek Orthodox custom. I really liked the idea of chanting “Christ has risen and truly he has risen” in multiple languages as a representation of inclusivity. However, I will admit having to do that for an hour and half seems extremely tedious. My informant on the other hand seemed enthusiastic about the ritual, proving her patience and loyalty to God.

 

Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Flying a Kite on Easter

 

 

Nationality: Jamaican

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): French

Age: 33

Residence: New York City, USA

Performance Date: April 15, 2017 (Skype)

 

Garfield is a 33 year old man, born and raised in Ochos Rios, Jamaica who is a loss control manager for a large clothing store in New York City. He immigrated to the United States 6 years ago.

 

 

Interviewer: Good Evening. Do you have a family story about when you lived in Jamaica and celebrated the holiday of Easter?

 

Informant: So I was saying like today is Easter Saturday you most people are out on the play field fields, flying kites, you know. They play crickets and sometimes we have kiteflying competitions you know. Whose kites look the best the designs, or um whose is the biggest, like the biggest kites, there is a competition for that also. And um a lot of bun and cheese. Jamaicans love bun and cheese for Easter you know. A lot of homes bake pudding. Jamaicans also love pudding for Easter you know. They don’t do a lot cooking like from Good Friday. They put away the cooking and they bake from like Thursday or so to celebrate Good Friday.  And then, today is Easter Saturday everybody has a kite, from the oldest to the youngest. When they fly kites, yes um. Some kids play marbles, but most focus on their kites today. Yes very nice. Very nice.

 

Interviewer:  When you came to the Unites States did you carry on any of the traditions here?

 

Informant: No not really. Because.. ah.. I don’t see much place here. I don’t see them following the traditions here. I don’t see kites in the sky. So even if they have kites here they are ready made. Like I see some of the tree things tree tree thing looks like something from China. We make our kites from bamboo, Jamaican bamboo. Then we shave it and buy bags of colored paper and we design the kites you know. Everything is just different and there love for Easter is more you can feel a different energy really in Jamaica. You know here people having Palm Sunday that stuff like that. They go to Church but they don’t have the vibe when we celebrate Easter in Jamaica.

 

Interviewer: What is the significance of Kite Flying on Easter in Jamaica?

 

Informant: Well you know it is all about Jesus on Easter, When we put the kite in the sky you know it is about the rise of Jesus to heaven. Yes that is what it is.

 

Thoughts about the piece:

Family traditions and memories can be very emotional. I sense from the Informant that there is a great void not able to celebrate Easter in Jamaica with family and friends. I was struck by his observations about the “vibe” being so different in the US. Even though there is a significant Jamaican / Caribbean diaspora in New York, that doesn’t duplicate experiences in Jamaica. Other Caribbean Islanders also fly kites for Easter: https://www.thecaribbeancurrent.com/some-easter-traditions-in-the-caribbean/

 

Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Polish Easter Basket Blessing

Nationality: Polish

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): Polish

Age: 28

Residence: New York City, USA

Performance Date: April 15, 2017 (Skype)

 

Christopher is a 28 year old man, born and raised in Warsaw, Poland and who emigrated with his family to the United States when he was 8 years old.  He is a College Graduate with a degree in Political Science. He is currently employed as a doorman in an apartment building in Queens, New York.

 

Interviewer: Good Afternoon. Does today being Holy Saturday bring back any memories of how you celebrated Easter in Poland?

 

Informant: So on Holy Saturday we would wake up very early and we would make um an Easter Basket with the family. Usually the youngest in the family will make the basket and in the basket you would put in a boiled egg, a piece of bread so ah a piece of Kielbasa little items like that. And that Saturday Morning, you and the family would head to Church and the Easter Basket would be blessed by a Priest. You would not be allowed to eat meat until that Easter Basket is blessed. Once the basket is blessed the whole family can enjoy meat on that Saturday. And that is the Polish Tradition of Easter on Holly Saturday.

 

Interviewer: Do you have any special remembrances when you celebrated in Poland as a young child then when you immigrated to the United States?

 

Informant: Oh my best memory is just how people would dress up and take the holiday very seriously. It was a very big, big holiday in Poland growing up.

 

Interviewer: Were there any changes when you got to the United States and the way the Polish Community celebrated Easter as opposed to in Poland?

 

Informant: Well in Poland they would held a big mass and this would take two hours to do. Everyone would get together with the Easter Eggs and baskets and getting blessed.  Over here in America I noticed it is a quick five minute process. You enter the church, you see the priest, then you are right out the door.

 

Interviewer: Now, as you live in America and people are less devoted to faith then in Poland, does the holiday take on another significance beyond religious?

 

Informant: For me personally this is ah about family, it keeps the family together. This tradition keeps the family together. It is about tradition.  Without tradition we start to lose family. As I said, we all get together for dinner, we see each so it is just a great way to catch up with family you haven’t seen in a quite a while.

 

Thoughts about the piece:  

Polish immigrants that want to continue or revive this tradition of “swieconka” in the US, can find a list of church services and traditional basket ingredients on sites like this: http://www.cleveland.com/cooking/index.ssf/2014/04/easter_basket_blessings_of_foo.html Symbolism of basket ingredients is explained here; http://luzdelmes.blogspot.com/2016/03/a-traditional-polish-easter-basket.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foodways
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

An Easter Tradition

Nationality: Jamaican

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): French

Age: 59

Residence: New York City, USA

Performance Date: April 13, 2017 (Skype)

 

Carlton is a 59-year old man, born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica who is a superintendent of a large apartment building in New York City. He immigrated to the United States over 38 years ago.

 

Interviewer: Good Morning. Do you have a family story about when you lived in Jamaica.

 

Informant: “Sure. I am from Jamaica and in Jamaica traditionally during Easter we bake buns and cheese and that is what we have for gifts that we eat that during Easter and so my father would always would always go and we would make these buns in ovens so we would light the fire and bake these buns and get them glazed and sell them to all the people, and give them as gifts and so on. So Easter is was a very traditional thing where people go to church and worship on Good Friday and it was very quiet. No one in in the store or shop so you just had people go to church and worshiping. That was a tradition of my family and others in Jamaica”

 

Interviewer:  You mentioned that your father would bake the buns at Easter. Is this common for Jamaica men to bake on Easter?

 

Informant: “No I don’t think so as far as I know, I can only speak about my father. It was a very special indeed special memory for me and me sisters.  He never did anything in the kitchen.  He said that was women’s work. But on Easter this was his special tradition and that he had to carry out and me and my sisters were expected to help him out. He was so so very serious about this. He would even wrap our hands if he caught us tasting the sweet glaze of the buns.  I just remember him being so proud that he did this and I think he was doing this so we would always think of him, he died a few years back, when me and sisters celebrate Easter with our families”.

 

Interviewer: Do you carry on this tradition with your family?

 

Informant: “Sorry to say I do not. I feel this was a um very very special thing that my father did and I cherish this memory of him when I celebrate Easter with my family here in the US.”

 

Interviewer: Thank You and I wish you a Happy Easter.

 

 

Thoughts about the piece:  

Food is a powerful memory aid to immigrants like my informant. This British import is a Good Friday treat, which may have roots in ancient Babylon. It has been adapted for Jamaicans by the addition of local molasses. The cross bun song can be found at: http://keepitjiggy.com/2011/03/a-jamaican-easter-bun-and-cheese/ Here is a recipe for making homemade Jamaican hot cross buns: http://eatjamaican.com/recipes/Jamaican-hot-cross-bun.html

 

 

 

 

 

Customs
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

From Ash Wednesday to Easter Colombian rituals

Another document collected from my great Aunt Nora about Holiday rituals, is what happens from Ash Wednesday to Saturday before Easter. Every Friday is observed by not eating any meat (beef, pork, chicken) only eggs and seafood can be consumed on also Good Friday and Virgin Saturday (day before Easter) are considered especially sacred. On Easter there is usually a feast with all the meats including those foods that were giving up for Lent. During Lent, a favorite food like chocolate is given up as an act of sacrifice to give remembrance to Jesus’s 40 days fast in the desert before the crucifixion. Any pagan ritual like coloring eggs, going on an easter egg hunts, making Easter baskets for the kids is also followed along side the holiday/religious rituals as long as they do not conflict, like eating a chocolate bunny before Easter would be a bad thing if chocolate is what you gave up on lent but on Easter, perfectly ok.

Analysis: I was shocked how many of my USC fellow classmates actually gave up their favorite food for Lent.  I find it amusing that no matter how religious my family member claim to be, they have no problem observing pagan ritual because they interpret it as American Holiday rituals not pagan. Although, everyone seemed confused why rabbits lays eggs in America? I tried to explain, but gave up quickly because food came out.

Holidays

Easter Tradition

Informant:

Pat is a junior chemical engineering major from Southern California.

Piece:

Alright so for easter my family, as opposed to celebrating the religious side of it, just focuses on coming together as a family and like bonding with each other. And we all go to upstate New York where my grandparents live and have like this massive four hour feast. And we have all these different courses and food and half way through there is a break to go change to the next pant size up and then come back and eat more. It’s a lot of fun every year.

Collector’s thoughts:

For the informant, Easter is more about family than it is a religious holiday. Rather than celebrate the religious aspect, Easter is used as a justification to gather as an entire family and share a meal with each other.

Game

Tucanje jaja (Cracking eggs)

Tucanje jaja (Cracking eggs)

Informant: SK is my mom. She was born and raised in New York, but moved to Croatia in 2002 and has been living there ever since.

 

What’s your favorite thing to do on Easter?

 

“Play cracking eggs.”

 

What’s that?

 

“It’s a game my family plays every Easter.”

 

How do you play it?

 

“Ok, so you need two players, each player has an egg and you hit the egg with the other egg. The egg that’s the least damaged is the winner. The winner as a prize gets to eat the egg.”

 

This game is a traditional Easter game that’s appropriate for all generations, and it’s interesting how from simple things like eggs a family cam make up a game that will bring the family even closer. Having it played on a holiday like Easter makes it even better because the whole family is there.

general
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Shrove Tuesday

Main Piece: “Shrove Tuesday is…uh…the last day before Lent. Lent…uh…precedes Easter. Lent lasts about I think a month and during Lent one does not eat as much. So one is more…um…frugal about eating. So the last day before Lent is called Shrove Tuesday and on that day, people eat a lot of pancakes. And the pancakes are tossed in a pan and people like to see how high they can toss them. They usually have lemon on them…squeezed lemon…they’re very nice. And that is the only time of the year that we ate pancakes, just that one day.”

Background: The informant, who grew up in the English countryside, began celebrating Shrove Tuesday as early as he can remember, but stopped around age 16, as the tradition was dying out. He celebrated this holiday at home with family. He notes that eating pancakes was the most enjoyable part of Shrove Tuesday. When asked about the name of the holiday, the informant said “shrove” comes from “shrive” which means to “absolve,” and in terms of this holiday, he thinks it means absolving one’s sins. However, the informant says he and his family did not celebrate Shrove Tuesday in that way.

Performance Context: We spoke over the phone.

My Thoughts: The informant understands Shrove Tuesday as a dying tradition. It seems to have already taken on another form when the informant was celebrating the holiday. As the informant noted, the name “Shrove Tuesday” didn’t accurately describe the holiday he celebrated. Most interesting and special to the informant was the pancake meal, since it was a rare meal to have. As the tradition began to be less celebrated by the informant, the foodways were the only particularly noteworthy component of the holiday. I think of the ways “Shrove Tuesday” in England parallels “Fat Tuesday” in the U.S., where the same notions of celebratory eating are present before the culmination of Lent.

Customs
Foodways
Holidays
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Ka’ik

“Ok so some of our um, uh traditions at Easter time in the Karam family where I grew up, and the Karam family is of uh, actually Syrian descent, and our family was Marinite Catholic and so we um followed Christian holidays and traditions. Ok so, a holiday tradition is to make a sweet bread called “ka’ik”(pronounced ka-yak) at Easter time, and my mother in law, used to always make it, and its like a dense biscuit, almost like a scone, and it has anise in it, which is sort of like the same flavor that licorice comes from, and she had a mold she would press it in before she baked it and they were kind of circular shape with an imprinted design on top, and then when they came out of the oven, she would pour just like a sugar water over it, I don’t think it had rosewater in it like the baklava, and uh so anyway we always had those at Easter time.”

Informant: The informant is a Catholic mother of five, of Syrian descent. She is from Kinder, Louisiana, where she grew up in a large family.

Analysis:

The context of this traditional food exemplifies the Catholic practices of this family that is of Syrian/Lebanese descent. Because they follow the Catholic Church, they celebrate the traditional Christian holidays. Cooking for these holidays is an important aspect of the performance of folklore, because most of the recipes are passed down from through the women of the households. The informant learned of this recipe through cooking with her mother-in law, demonstrating the close and important familial ties of this culture.

The significance of this dish is that it comes from Syrian/Lebanese styles of cooking, which is exemplified through the use of anise in the recipe. Anise can be found in the Mediterranean region, and is a spice commonly used in dishes that are derived from this region. This exhibits how baking, cooking, and sharing recipes with family members is an integral part of sharing culture. As the informant also stated that she felt it was her duty to teach her children how to cook the family recipes in order to continue the customs of her traditional culture, it is apparent that recipes like this carry a special significance.

I agree that this significance is the importance of passing down traditional practices through the kitchen as a way of extenuating one’s culture. I also think it is interesting how the women are the ones baking and cooking together. I believe that this comes from the Catholic/Christian influence in the family. Because the Abrahamic tradition is patrilineal, it is apparent that the women have traditionally been the ones in the home doing the cooking for many generations. This continues to be the case as recipes are handed down from matriarch to matriarch.

 

 

 

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