At the end of Lent is Easter, which is my favorite holiday. This is a holiday celebrated with much joy in my family. The Serbian Orthodox church observes many Easter traditions similar to those in the United States, but a little different. I grew up in a large family and on this holiday all family members come back home, no matter how far away they are.
My paternal grandmother would gather us; kids and the matriarchs had the most prominent role in Easter prep. On Great Friday (Good Friday to Western Christians) we start to dye red eggs for Easter. The very first egg that comes out of the pot is a housekeeper and is kept for a year. For the rest of the day, not much else goes on besides going to church for an evening liturgy and getting started with food preparation for the Sunday meal.
Bright and early on Saturday we start decorating the rest of the eggs. These eggs can be dyed in different patterns and colors, and usually every member makes several eggs with their own mark. On Saturday there is a major cleaning of the house as there is a big feast the day after and the house will be full with guests. Everyone is equally involved and with a task assigned. It was not uncommon for us to go to bed earlier on Saturday in anticipation of exciting Easter Sunday.
Sunday, kids get to show off their decoration craft to family and neighbors. Everyone brings an egg to church and this is the time when egg tapping starts. The eggs are compared by gently tapping in a contest to test which egg is the strongest. A sturdy egg that doesn’t break easily is a representation of a very successful year filled with many blessing ahead. After church everyone heads home and the celebration is ready to start. These family gatherings last for many hours until late in the evening. Homes are usually filled with delicious food, several desserts and endless amount of joy.
While this holiday might be as many others, in my heart it definitely has a special place. It reminds me to be humble, surround myself with family and loved ones; it also grounds me, reminding me where I came from and of my roots and traditions.