Dear Auntie Chambu:
I'm a 23 year old working, single mother. My mom recently came from Cameroon to help with my 2 yr. old daughter. She is a religious, churchgoing woman and I'm so busy I haven't been to a Sunday service in ages. I've been trying to find a nice way to celebrate Easter but get turned off by the commercialism of the holiday. For my mother's sake, how can I give Easter meaning beyond chocolate bunnies and dyed eggs?
While marshmallow bunnies and cream filled eggs may seem like frivolities sold en masse to Americans during the holiday, they actually have deeper meaning. Rooted in Christian tradition a symbol like the egg evolved from the religious interpretation of the shape of the tomb from which Christ was resurrected. The egg was also an emblem "of new life and resurrection" for thousands of years before Christ. Another symbol like the rabbit or hare signified fertility in the pagan Springtime rites of Eastre and was later co-opted by Christianity. Over time its symbolism changed as well and the rabbit- much like the lamb became synonymous with a sacrifice- specifically Christ's sacrifice.
Most Easter symbols are widely accepted and used by Christian and non-believers alike although they are not all traceable to Biblical teachings. No matter what its origin, the Easter holiday is celebrated all over the world as the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his death in atonement for our sins. We are made anew, washed by the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus. Christians believe that Christ was crucified on the eve of Passover and miraculously rose from the dead after a few days. Easter can be a grand commemoration of the love that made Christ give his life for you and for me!
Sister, find a church and take your mother to it on Easter morning. I suggest you stick to your Mom's denomination when choosing a church to provide continuity in the rituals she observes i.e. Baptist, Catholic or Presbyterian. In most churches people wear their Sunday best to celebrate this festive occasion. It is also a time for families to commune together over a special meal. Since this is a Christian celebration, your mother might not find it that different from what she was used to in Africa, yet if she knows any special songs and prayers from back home try to incorporate them in to the day.
You can enjoy church and also enjoy the egg hunts, bunnies, baskets of candies, hot cross buns and greetings cards that only make the occasion more joyous for all children, young and old.
Auntie Chambu, 52, was born and raised in the grasslands of Cameroon. This sheltered nineteen year old, boarding school girl came to a rebellious 60's United States to pursue a college degree and her dreams. She garnered degrees in social work and counseling, got married, and had four kids who constantly put her education and home spun wisdom to the test. After over twenty years of living on the two continents, her advice has a great mixture of traditional African insights with a spirited American independent thinker streak.
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