Although fall is my favorite time of year, I like this time of year as well. I’m not so fond of the more fickle weather pattern, which, of late, includes wind, tornadoes, and flooding, followed by freeze warnings. However, when the days get longer, with sunlight lingering later, and flowers are budding and blooming, there is a spirit of renewal and energy that pervades the air.
As someone who grew up in the Southern Baptist church, my memories are filled with the significance of the Easter season. Although I was never fond of wearing frilly dresses, I loved the preparation involved in getting ready for the church season for a young girl. The Sears catalog, of course, was the place to start.
I remember poring over the pages of white or pastel-colored frilly dresses – which, again, wasn’t my modus operandi – but my favorite part of the process was selected a wide-brimmed white hat adorned with a ribbon and a pair of soft snow-white gloves. For me, it felt like a Carnival or Mardi Gras or even Halloween event, offering the opportunity to adorn an almost costume-like outfit.
Then, of course, there was always those long-cherished Easter egg hunts, held most often either on Good Friday or the Saturday preceding Easter. As someone always interested in the origins of holidays, I recently discovered the significance of eggs during the Easter holiday. Hearkening back to pre-Christian societies, eggs were symbolic of renewal and rebirth, and Christians transferred this symbolism into their practices, using eggs as a representative of Christ’s resurrection and the egg shell as a symbol of the empty tomb.
As part of the practice, eggs were prohibited for consumption during Lent. Anyone ever eat pancakes for breakfast on Shrove Tuesday? This practice originates from the prohibition of eating eggs. Thus, an egg at the culmination of the Lent season was a treat.
Some historians suggest that our current tradition of hiding and finding Easter eggs dates back to 16th century Germany when Protestant reformer Martin Luther organized egg hunts for his congregation. At that time, men hid the eggs for the women and children to find, hearkening back to the Biblical story of the women who surprisingly found the empty tomb where it was expected to find Christ’s corpse.
As a child, my favorite segment of the entire process wasn’t the hiding and the locating of the eggs but the coloring process. I still remember the smell of the vinegar and the gorgeous, varied colors of the dye. Of course, another exciting aspect of the ritual, in the end, was those glorious plastic eggs, full of candy and, sometimes, money.
Returning to the potential symbolism of Easter, one of the memorable cinematic scenes of an egg hunt comes in the 1989 movie Steel Magnolias. In this movie, Sally Field’s character M’Lynn has lost her daughter Shelby, played by Julia Roberts, to complications of diabetes following a high-risk pregnancy.
The film closes with an Easter egg hunt, and Jack, Jr., the progeny of Shelby and her husband Jackson, is bounding across the grass with the other children, dressed in their colorful Easter attire. The moment becomes a symbolic representation of the renewal and rebirth and celebration, even in the midst of loss and sorrow and grief.
This year, more than ever, as we rebound somewhat from a harrowing year filled with the loss, struggle, and grief of the pandemic, the Easter season serves as a reminder that loss is not forever pervasive. There is also a time for hope and regeneration, and hopefully, that time is coming soon.
Daily Corinthian columnist Stacy Jones teaches English at McNairy Central High School and as an adjunct instructor at UT-Martin. She is pursuing an Ed.S. degree in Educational Leadership through Lipscomb University in Nashville. She enjoys downtown Corinth.