Easter Traditions

I can recall many Easter traditions from my childhood. Of course, we went to church. That was true regardless of the holiday. If it was a Sunday, we were in church. We often had ham with pineapple baked on top for dinner. And sometimes we’d go for a ride around Greenfield Lake, looking at the flowers. I can only remember going once to a sunrise service before I could drive myself. I think it was too much to get a family of six up that early!.

Me (to the left) with my siblings in front of my Dad's Ford Torino in the early 70s
In front of Dad’s Torino, early 1970s
from left; Me, my sister, my brother, & in front, our younger brother

But two traditions stand out. The first, before Mom allowed us to ditch our new church clothes for play clothes, we had to pose for a family portrait. My parents made us stand at attention in front of some flowers, generally azaleas which often bloomed in Eastern North Carolina around Easter. But one year, Dad had a new yellow Ford Torino that was brighter than any of the flowers in the neighborhood. They lined my siblings and me up in front of the car. It must have been around 1971 or 72. 

Before church, we always received our Easter basket, even though we had to sit them aside until afterwards because my Mom didn’t want us to get chocolate on our new clothes. Of course, this didn’t keep me from trying to sneak a piece of candy or two into church. Each basket came with a small gift. I’m pretty sure Mom prepared the baskets for us kids. It included eggs which we’d dyed the day before, along with a variety of candy. My favorite were the malt balls covered with chocolate and hard candy. It’s still a favorite just in case anyone is reading needs a hint. 

While Mom handled the candy and decorating, I’m sure Dad picked out the small gift, at least for us boys. I have no idea what kind of gift my sister received, but the males of the family almost always received some sort of fishing gear. Over the years, there were packets of plastic worms and a variety of lures, but the one that I will always remember was a yellow jitterbug with silver strips on top. This was the Easter after my brother and I received a Zepco fishing rod for Christmas. I was in the second grade. My brother’s jitterbug black. They were both larger lures. When it came to fishing, Dad’s ambition was large.

Interestingly, I thought I remembered what happened to those two lures. My brother’s ended up on a powerline over my Uncle Frank’s pond and for years you could see it dangling there, beside other lures and tackle, looking like a trotline for a flying fish. He grew tired of me joking about his failure to catch flying-fish. But my memory tricked me. A few years ago, when I told this story, my brother insisted he still had his jitterbug. The next time I saw him, he even produced it. So, it must have been another lure that my brother sacrificed to flying fish. 

I never lost my jitterbug while fishing. It remained in my freshwater tackle box; its paint having flaked a bit over the decades. Someone broke into my car and stole that tackle box when I lived in Utah. I only hope the lure still catches fish.

A jitterbug is an ideal lure to catch bass. In the evening, as the air cools, the fish move close to the surface to feast on bugs. The lure stays on the top of the water, and waddles back and forth, much like giant water bug. The fish hears and feels this movement across the surface and strike, ending up on the wrong end of a triple hook. 

Recalling this tradition of receiving fishing lures for Easter, it seems this is an appropriate Easter gift. My favorite post-resurrection story of Jesus is him on the beach, roasting fish for the disciples who’d spent the evening on the water. A few of the disciples were fisherman and Jesus tells them that they’re to continue to fish, only for people. They’re to continue to cast out metaphorically onto the water.

the author fishing at sunset in the Quetico Wilderness in Western Ontario
Fishing in the evening in the Quetico. While I don’t think I caught this pike on a jitterbug, I do remember catching a few bass on such a lure while on this trip.

18 Replies to “Easter Traditions”

  1. Thanks for sharing your Easter traditions, Jeff. I love that photo of you and your siblings in front of the Torino. Easter baskets weren’t the custom in Canada when I was growing up. Dad took great delight in hiding Easter eggs for all five of us over the years, and those eggs were hard to find. He made sure we were up early, so we could go to church after hunting for eggs and a pancake breakfast. Roast beef for Easter was the tradition in Prince Edward Island where my father came from. So roast beef it was.

  2. Fun! My parents only made us go to church on Christmas and Easter. The church was too small for the Easter crowd, so they’d put a giant, heated tent in a cow field. We always had church in the tent. I mostly remember it being very cold and very muddy. Of course I stuffed my pockets with candy and ate it during church. 🙂

    1. that would be really cold if it was at Christmas. This Easter here was warm, but last year it was in the mid-20s with winds in the 20s, so it was pretty cold for sunrise (which is outside).

    1. I hope so. We never talked much about Easter traditions, but I remember wanting to get out of the uncomfortable clothes and having to wait till there was enough photos.

  3. We usually received a basket with jellybeans and a chocolate rabbit. Back then they were solid chocolate and not the hollow shells that seem to be sold these days. We didn’t get any extra gifts with our candy. We also dyed eggs and then the Easter bunny/parents hid them for us to find. We always made deviled eggs and potato salad for our Easter meal which was usually ham as well.

  4. Love seeing the early photo of you and your siblings! I think Easter makes me more nostalgic than any other holiday. Life sure has changed.

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