Easter decorations
Neighbors enjoying the Easter-friendly yard of author Linda Kraus.

Where has the American Easter gone?

Almost all religions and cultures have some form of spring celebration. The U.S. traditionally had spring planting and Easter egg hunts for celebrating the entry of spring.

In my youth, Easter was all about celebrating the beginning of spring and a week off from school! It was less about religion, but much more about the thought of kindness all around.

Everyone helped each other in getting spring gardens filled with blooming flowers for this special day. Everyone’s family and friends would get together in a park or beach during the day to celebrate this spring.

It didn’t matter where someone was born or what their religious beliefs were. More important was how many beautiful Easter eggs could be found. When all the eggs were located, a winner was announced. After the big announcement, there was marvelous food to eat. It was a time of fun and stomachs full of great food.

In my diverse family, Easter food was all about sweets. There were jellybeans and chocolate eggs for everyone. It was spring, so no one seemed to care if the treats were healthy or not.

Food and drink were set out throughout the day. My Jewish aunt brought her delicious homemade hamantaschen cookies, which were matched by my French Catholic grandmother’s mouthwatering homemade pastries. The adults were most interested in my Protestant grandmother’s ice chests of cold beer. She always was very popular with everyone when she arrived, and had plenty of help getting her contribution to the picnic area. 

Why do so few Americans seem to be having springtime fun anymore? It used to be that the elders would watch or play with the children while the younger parents would start a game of football or baseball. It didn’t matter if you were a woman or a man; the major concern was having enough people to play a good game of something.  Not everyone was a winner and it didn’t matter. What mattered was just being together, having some fun in the first days of warmth after a long winter of sitting in the house.

What happened to the American Easter traditions of kindness? Does anyone even help their neighbors or elderly family members plant flowers anymore? Have you seen anyone in the park having Easter egg hunts or playing any kind of sports in a family gathering?

Did you know that only in America is there the tradition of eating honey-roasted ham for Easter dinner? It’s because it was cheaper than lamb. Most American families don’t even gather for a large ham dinner anymore. They spend their day playing video games, and maybe watching the traditional White House Easter egg hunt. Network television only seems to have religious programming.

Can America go back to some Easter traditions?

This year, my decision was that we need to start somewhere. I decided to make my contribution to bringing back the American Easter Celebration.

Flowers and decorations were bought for my front yard. My neighbors were invited to come over to help decorate. Can our hard work bring one smile to a face? Can this one act influence others to bring back the America Easter tradition of kindness, friendliness and happiness? We can only do our part… then wait and see if it catches on!

Linda Kraus is a retired Southern California educator and former Navy Veteran, who served overseas before ending her enlistment in San Diego. She won a bronze medal for poetry at the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.