So Getnet comes for Easter Brunch and after a while says ‘What is the significance of bunnies and eggs?’ Being Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia, this is his first exposure to Canadian Easter traditions. I had taken pains to point out that ours was probably not a typical Easter, involving as it does a crepes brunch, followed by two birthday cakes, an Easter egg hunt and finally a pinata filled with goodies. By the time we get to the gigantic chocolate egg that I have brought from Montreal, the diabetic comas prevail and most of us abstain.
I have a big family. There is a lot of blah blah blah that goes on at any family gathering and as far as I know we all look forward to it. We also all look forward to fresh ears – people who haven’t heard the best of the stories yet. There’s a lull in the usual loquaciousness as we briefly glance around to see if anyone actually knows the answer to Getnet’s question, and then the stories start to fly. One answer starts with Pagan traditions, another with Jesus and a third with Timothy Eaton.
I doubt if Getnet was any closer to the real story by the end, but it did make me realize that the unifying themes in all of our family celebrations are food and festivities with family and friends. There are correlations between the intuitive family dynamics and the community-building wisdom that I am reading about and seeing develop at CSI and in the ‘hood. Though we give them different names, I suppose a family is a small community, interacting with others to form a neighbourhood, growing to a municipality, a society… you get the picture. It’s not hard then to find answers when you wonder what causes all the strife between cultures or societies; one only has to look to the family to see conflict in all its variation.
I considered our strange aggregate family Easter and I couldn’t help but wonder if this is how traditions usually start; a shared desire, an assessment of needs and resources, and a call to action. Perhaps the key to lasting traditions and to community-building is fluidity – and a short memory! ‘Haven’t we always done it like this?’ Keeping good things that come along, losing stale things along the way.
Does the reason matter? Fertility? Resurrection? Chocolate? Who cares what the excuse for the gathering is if the point is to get together and be a part of what’s important. Like family and friends and food and festivities.
“Reminds me of home,” says Getnet. Turns out he has a big family too.