Are you breaking an egg this Easter?Sunday, April 02, 2017
From my personal observation, kite flying doesn’t seem to be so popular this year. Normally at this time, two weeks before Easter, kites are soaring in the air and humming in our ears. Some say it’s too early, and not to worry, as with the kite festivals planned for Seville and other areas we’ll soon see a proliferation of kites in the days leading up to Easter.
At a meeting last week, we adults grumbled that youngsters are no longer looking up to the skies for kite flying because they have their heads buried in their cellphones. Kids are no longer inclined to build a kite, shape it for competition, slip in a razor blade in the tail for the aerial kite fights, and run up and down to chase abandoned kites or capture the cord from the younger ones and take over the sailing.
That was another point at the meeting. We were discussing serious business at the Noranda Community Council’s monthly, but the conversation strayed every now and then to current affairs, for example the proposed ban on sodas and bag juice. One mother was strident in her argument that the reason kids bear so much weight nowadays is due to lack of physical exercise. "In our days we walked miles and miles to school, played chase and police ‘n’ tief during recess, and had vigorous physical exercise activities while sucking snowballs, icicles; gorging on drops, grater cake, bullas and ‘truppence’ buns."
The exercise kept us trim and healthy, she opined, but today they won’t move an inch without taxi fare, have lunch bags propped up with junk food, and suffer lack of exercise as they concentrate on the cellphone games, Twitter, and social media. "No wonder bag juice a kill dem off," she complained. She felt that the Ministry of Education should look into reinstating compulsory and vigorous physical exercise classes, and that would solve the problems we are having with overweight children.
Well, in the old days Easter was certainly a time to lose weight and keep fit. As the ‘wash belly’ among brothers, I usually ended up with the smallest kite and watched in envy as the bigger boys competed with kite size, patterns, the best singing tail or the hummer, which could be heard for miles around, and the prettiest kite tail.
The Easter weekend usually falls in the dry season, making for a holiday weekend filled with beautiful warm weather. Winds are typically high during that time as well, and the skies used to be coloured with kites. It was every boy’s ambition to cut down another one’s kite, as that would give you superiority and game set and match until the next day when we would meet again with kites, either repaired, rescued from the public service lines, or recovered from the bushes.
I remember once innocently raiding my mother’s sewing box and using what I thought were discarded sheets to make a kite tail. The shock on my mother’s face when she looked up in the sky the following day to see her best and prettiest dress material masquerading in the skies was equal to the shock treatment she administered to our bottoms when we returned home that evening.
Well, if I do see a kite flying anywhere this week it will be sufficient reminder that Easter is nigh; in fact, two short weeks away. That’s how I felt until I visited the supermarkets on Thursday and saw the outlay of Easter buns and cheese tins dominating the aisles and the shelves. True, the Easter bun appearance is the sure sign that Easter is here, and what a variety we will have to choose from this year. The bakeries have stepped up with their colourful wrappings, and if the photos on the packages are anything to go by, we are in for more fruit, more moisture, a richer bun, and more weight this year than ever before.
This is one tradition that will not go the way of the kite. This is the time of the year when we saturate ourselves with those gigantic Easter buns throughout the season. The custom may have come down to us from the hot cross buns of the British. In my childhood, the buns baked at home were actually draped with crispy crosses that were themselves a tasty mouthful and added character to the taste.
Easter bun and cheese are an absolute must for Jamaicans during the Easter season. Talk the truth, some of you have already been eating bun and cheese at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I took some slices to the office the other day, and my colleagues fell upon them without a murmur about diet or keeping fit. Even the most rigorous and self-righteous dieter will be hard-pressed and severely tested in the face of those Easter packages lining up on the shelves.
But there remains hope for the diet watcher. If tradition remains true, no red meat will be eaten on Good Friday. My mother insisted on fried fish for the main meal, although she allowed bun and cheese to creep in after 3:00 pm.
There are other traditions that are rapidly disappearing. Do you remember the one that said if you place an egg white in water on Holy Thursday night it will form a shape that can predict your future? That explains the usual reported shortage of eggs on Easter weekends. It’s not from the baking; it must be the Caymanas punters or the lotto buyers breaking dozens of eggs to find out which horse to buy, or which number to call.
My favourite tradition was the sworn testament of elders in the village that if you cut the bark of a physic nut tree on Good Friday it would bleed, with the sap signifying the blood of Jesus. Our neighbour, Old George, would call us over to his farm and lash the tree with his machete, but to be honest, I don’t recall seeing the tree ever bleed.
Most churches and homes in Jamaica are decorated with Easter lilies, which seem to appropriately bloom on Easter Sunday. The lily is a symbol of purity, innocence and virtue and has come to symbolise the resurrection of Jesus Christ. History, mythology, literature, poetry, and the world of art are rife with stories and images that speak of the beauty and majesty of the elegant white flower. Often called the "white-robed apostles of hope", lilies were found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s agony. Easter services would not be the same without these beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers adorning church altars and decorating the aisles. It is said that the lilies sprang up in the garden to mark the spot where Christ’s tears fell during his agony on the night of His betrayal.
That is what we sing and pray about on Easter Sunday mornings. If we can say that any one aspect of the Christian faith is more important than the other, it must be the resurrection. Without faith that Jesus rose from the dead there would be no Christianity, no Easter morn. St Paul affirms in his letter to the Corinthians, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile."
The triumph of the love and power of God over the wiles of the devil is perhaps never more marked than it is at Easter when the empty tomb overcomes the cross. So, party as we will this year, the church doors will be open on April 16, the message remains the same as it was 2,000 years ago, and Handel’s
Chorus will continue to thrill our souls with its majestic reminder that "the Lord God omnipotent reigneth".
Lance Neita is a public relations and community relations consultant and writer. Send comments to the Observer or