Op-ed: Give thanks & celebrate love of a family this Easter

Sunday 17 April 2022, The Examiner


How great is Easter, and not just the holidays, as Easter means different things to different people. To many it is one of the principal holidays or feasts of Christianity. To others it is all about a time to rest, reflect, enjoy family time and eat chocolate! You only have to shop, and not too long after Christmas is over, to see Easter bunnies, chocolate eggs and other Easter treats appearing everywhere in our supermarkets.


It must be so hard for many families, particularly those with several children, to afford these treats. In the supermarket at the weekend I noticed a simple small chocolate Easter bunny was priced at over $4 and larger ones were $8. There would be lots of families who can’t afford these for children, and how sad some young people would be that their friends have a plethora of treats but the Easter bunny hasn’t come to them.


I feel sad for these families as there are lots of people looking forward to the Easter break, but for many it would be a time of turmoil and sadness, a bit like Christmas when you can’t afford presents for your family. It is either presents or groceries, so there really isn’t a choice.


For many Christians Ash Wednesday, which falls after Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day, is the start of Lent. This is a time for penitence and fasting which ends at Easter. Pancake Day was about removing food/temptation you were not allowed to eat, and putting it all into a pancake.


In Launceston we used to have Pancake races in Civic Square with the Pilgrim Uniting Church cooking pancakes. The Pancake race champions were usually the very fit team from Foot and Playsted.


Launceston Council and others tried to displace them, but Foot and Playsted were regular winners taking home the trophy. Perhaps it is time to bring back the races and wrest back the trophy.


The question of eating fish on Good Friday is also an interesting one. As is told Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, sacrificing his flesh for our sins, and therefore it is necessary for Christians to abstain from eating meat on this day. It seems the rule of not eating meat doesn’t extend to fish as the Church states that land animals can’t be eaten.


Many would have seen that fish shapes are also a religious symbol and this was apparently used as a secret symbol for Christians to identify themselves in past times when their religion was banned, given that many of Jesus’ followers were fishermen.


Then there is the hot cross bun. There are several theories on their origin, but the most likely is that an Anglican monk in the 14th century baked the spiced buns and distributed them to the poor on Good Friday. The cross on the top of the bun represents the crucifixion of Jesus and the spices inside, represent the spices used to embalm him at his burial. They were very popular and soon became a symbol of the Easter weekend.


There is a record of a London street cry from 1733 of “Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs with one or two a penny hot cross buns”. I must admit to having buns in my freezer for most of the year as it is lovely to have a cup of tea with a warm bun covered with real butter and jam.


Then there is the Easter egg. Eggs are a sign of new life and in Christianity symbolize the resurrection of Jesus. Originally these eggs were chicken eggs, dyed and painted, but fortunately for those of us who love chocolate, the modern custom is to have chocolate eggs wrapped in coloured foil. Admittedly I can eat chocolate eggs all year round, and there is nothing better than discovering some lost in the back of the pantry.


So while we are enjoying an Easter break, let’s bear a thought for those people and children in places like Ukraine. Easter in Ukraine falls on April 17 for Catholic and Protestant Christians and on April 24 for members of the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches. In Ukraine Easter is known as Velykden or The Great Day and sadly for these people this year it will not be a time of celebration with families or getting together with a special Easter meal.


Irrespective of whether you are religious or not, let’s make the most of our time together and appreciate just how lucky we are here in Tasmania.


Rosemary Armitage MLC

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