Historian Jennifer Michael Hecht is perhaps one of the best demonstrations of the usefulness of history in counteracting erroneous beliefs about the world, past and present.
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Pulse on Easter
For the Christian community, today is probably the most important day of the year, rivalled only by Christmas Day. On this day, many centuries ago, Jesus Christ was crucified by the Romans at Calvary.
For the religious, today meant three hours of church for the Stations of the Cross pilgrimage.
However, before leaving home to attend this service you had to have hot cross buns for breakfast. In many historically Christian countries, buns are traditionally eaten hot or toasted during Lent, beginning with the evening of Shrove Tuesday (the evening before Ash Wednesday) to midday Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of the Crucifixion.
In my home, after we had consumed my mother’s hot cross buns, preparations began for a sumptuous lunch, to be had after church. The menu annually consisted of provision, including yam, cassava, potato and eddoes, gub gub peas or lima beans, big slices of king fish, and cole slaw. For some reason my mother had a preference for light-coloured foods on Good Friday, the only coloured thing on the table being port, sherry or red wine.
Of course with most significant days of the year, there was also myth and folklore attached to Good Friday, the most popular one being if you bathed in the sea on this day you’d turn into a fish.
Another Good Friday tradition involved a common fowl egg and a glass of water. On the morning you were supposed to place the egg white in a glass of water and place it outside your home, in the sun.
At noon, you’d check the glass and the egg white was supposed to transform into a shape to divine your coming year. If the egg white took the shape of a church steeple you’d have a year of piety.
If it changed into a boat you’d spend a year of travel. I never heard of anyone whose egg white turned into a coffin as you can imagine what this would portend?
I also remember my parents going to Ibrahim’s poultry depot on Henry Street, Port-of-Spain, to purchase painted chicks. I cannot remember what became of the chicks once they aged and the dye dissolved to reveal the true colour of their feathers.
Easter eggs are also up there, alongside other traditions. Originally, eggs celebrated Easter or springtime. The oldest tradition was to use dyed and painted chicken eggs, but a modern custom is to substitute chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs filled with confectionery such as jelly beans. Eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility, and rebirth.
In Christianity, the celebration of Eastertide includes Easter eggs symbolising the empty tomb of Jesus though an egg appears to be like the stone of a tomb, a bird hatches from it with life; similarly, the Easter egg, for Christians, is a reminder that Jesus rose from the grave, and that those who believe will also experience eternal life.
The Easter Bunny (also called the Easter Rabbit or Easter Hare) is a fantasy character depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. Originating among German Lutherans, the Easter Hare originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behaviour at the start of the season of Eastertide. The Easter Bunny is sometimes depicted with clothes. In legend, the creature carries coloured eggs in his basket, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such shows similarities to Santa Claus, as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holiday.
In my home, Gloria Saturday was the “soup day” on Easter weekend, a thick concoction usually with lots of provision and dumplings and bit of ham bone. That Saturday evening was usually occupied with the baking of white and sweet breads, as well as a ham for breakfast on Easter Sunday morning. My mother would also traditionally bake a fruit cake and two sponge cakes, using fruits soaked since the preceding Christmas.
The Easter Sunday lunch was also a gourmet event, usually comprising baked ham and chicken, roast beef, stewed pigeon peas, potato salad, macaroni pie, callaloo and plantains. After lunch, my father would usually pack us into his Morris Oxford and we’d head to either Mayaro, Manzanilla or Tompire, the latter being a favourite of my parents when they courted, sometimes Tembladora.
My household would be so tired after frolicking at the beach we’d sleep almost all of Easter Monday. As I grew older, I became a religious spectator to horse racing in the Queen’s Park Savannah on Easter Monday, a passion that increased later when I lived on Woodford Street, a stone’s throw from the Savannah.
I know several of you would be doing family things this holiday Easter weekend, including flying kites and going to the beach. Whatever you decide to do, please be careful out there and do enjoy young weekend.
Fresh start for Atlanta mas
“A brand new and revitalised Atlanta Carnival experience.” This is the promise from the newly-formed Atlanta Carnival Bandleaders Council (ACBC); a group that has taken the initiative to present the Caribbean culture in a new way to the city of Atlanta on Saturday, May 24, at The Underground, on 50 Central Avenue SW, Atlanta.
This event, from 11 am - 10 pm, showcases the best of Caribbean culture including its pulsating steel pan and soca music, creative costumes and sumptuous foods. Attendees are guaranteed an action-packed schedule of festivities including marquee events.
Under the direction of ACBC, this year’s festivities boasts displays of costumes from over 13 of Atlanta’s most popular carnival bands including Bachannalist, Dynamic Image, Impulse Mas, Inferno, Madd Colors, Madd Flava Da Movement, Mas Hysteria, Paradise Troupe, Panyarders, ThunderBirds, Trini Vibez, United Bajans, United for Haiti and We Kinda Ting.
Attendees will also be privy to some of the Caribbean’s premium entertainers during the stage show including headliner 2014 International Groovy Soca Monarch Kerwin Du Bois, Farmer Nappy, Mr Killa, Blaxx, Pumpa, Tian Winter, Tallpree, Baba Shanta, Request band, Jah Gambo, Imani and Bigga Haitian.
Atlanta Carnival attracts thousands of spectators and revellers annually from across the world which creates many opportunities for vendors.
The mission of the ACBC is to promote a broader understanding and a deeper appreciation of Caribbean culture among the Atlanta community by seeking the interest of carnival bands and steelbands, and using the Atlanta Caribbean Carnival as a vehicle for the promotion of Caribbean culture.
For more info: http://atlantacarnivalbc.com
Marquee events of Atlanta Carnival 2014:
Official Press Conference - May 3
Parade of Bands – May 24, at 11 am
Concert and Stage Show – May 24, inside The Underground
And numerous electrifying Carnival events leading up to the main attraction
For a full schedule of official Atlanta Carnival events, visit http://atlantacarnivalbc.com