Easter was an interesting experience for us this year. It came upon me so quickly, I was surprised. One of the reasons I think it was able to sneak up on me was the fact that we were not inundated by Easter bunnies, candy, Easter baskets, and pastel colors months ahead of time in the stores. In fact, except for a small section at Walmart, there is a conspicuous absence of the more commercial aspect of Easter in the States. This is, in fact, something I really like about being in Mexico. Holidays like Easter and Christmas are naturally more cristo-centric than the overwhelming commercialism of these holidays in the U.S. Holy Week, or Semana Santa, is a fairly big deal here since Mexico is a Catholic country. What was interesting to me was that the focal points of the week were Thursday and Friday. Everything pretty much stopped those two days. Few restaurants were open, almost no stores, and there was a notable calm to the city. However, Saturday and Sunday everything was back to business as normal!! It was as if Easter was over after Good Friday.
The fact that Thursday and Friday were more celebrated as a whole was not completely shocking to me. I am well aware that Catholicism, at least in Mexico, tends to focus on the sufferings of Christ rather than his victory in his resurrection. What surprised me was how little emphasis Protestant churches seemed to place on Easter. Apparently it is typical to have an early morning service (although our church met at the same time as normal), and for families to eat breakfast together afterwards, but it (in my experience) is not nearly as celebrated or emphasized as it is in Protestant churches in the States. We did spend time with our Mexican family, but it was extremely casual and pretty much like any other Sunday we spend with them. I was surprised at how much I missed some of our "normal" traditions, like a special family meal together, reflecting together on what Christ has done for us, and just the general feeling of expectation that precedes the day we remember our Savior's resurrection. Eliana is two, so she didn't really notice anything was different from last year, but I am starting to reflect on the fact that I do want to create special family traditions around holidays. I hope that one day when Eliana thinks about Easter her first thoughts will be about traditions we have as a family pointing towards Christ rather than an Easter bunny and candy.
In the end, my favorite part of Easter actually happened on Monday. Paul and Nydia had invited us to come over to their house for lunch and for a small Easter egg hunt with the plastic eggs that Paul's mom (who is visiting from Minnesota) had brought with her from the States. There were just twelve eggs and we put symbols of Christ's death and resurrection (if any of you have ever done resurrection eggs then you know what I'm talking about), as well as some jelly beans. Andrés, Paul and Nydia's oldest, dressed up in a bunny costume and that was about the extent of Eliana's Easter bunny exposure! The three kids searched for the eggs and had a blast doing so. With a little simple math you can figure out that each child got to find four eggs. It was really simple, but they all loved it. After the hunt we went inside and Andrés read to Eliana and Ana the story of a little boy who follows Jesus around right before his death and collects little symbols of his journey (like the ones we had hidden in the eggs). As he read the story the girls got to look through their eggs to see which of the symbols were hidden in the eggs they had collected. Although honestly the girls didn't pay a lot of attention to the story, they did enjoy looking through the eggs for the symbols. When everything was finished up we all had a meal together and the kids played. It was really, really nice. I definitely think this is a tradition I would like to continue. There was some of the fun and excitement of the Easter egg hunt, but it was coupled with a fun activity that points the kids to the real reason for Easter. It was simple and not extravagant with a minimal amount of candy, but the kids all enjoyed themselves immensely from Ana and Eliana (who are 3 and 2) to Andrés (who is 7). For some reason I am having a lot of problems loading the pictures we took, so since this post has already been delayed a week, I will go ahead and post it now and the pictures later. Or maybe I'll try a seperate post. We'll see! :)