Balancing Easter and Passover
They’ll be there, bright, spankin’ early for the town’s semi-vicious Easter egg hunt, where it’s an everyone-for-themselves mad dash to grab as many plastic eggs filled with cheap plastic toys as possible. Then my two-and-one-half-year-old twins will stand in line for the obligatory photo with the Easter bunny, who I hope will be wearing a clean costume this year. (Last year I felt like slipping the rabbit a coupon for the local dry cleaner.) All bets are off as to whether we’ll get a photo of my little ones smiling or howling in fear at this sight of the giant hare.
Then, the very next week, we’ll sit down to a Seder dinner in honor of the first night of Passover. Afterwards, we’ll send the kids on a different type of hunt, this one to scour the house for the special hidden piece of matzo (that thin, Passover cracker), known as the afikomen, the finder of which gets a prize.
Attempting to balance the Easter bunny and matzo can be tricky. In fact it’s really not balancing so much as it’s blending the backgrounds of two divergent families. True, to pre-schoolers, a bunny and chocolate eggs may hold more allure than a stiff cracker and Moses stories told during a Seder dinner. So at this stage, celebrating both Easter and Passover is about exposing Abbey and Jonah to the traditions of the families of their Protestant mom and Jewish dad. When they get older and start asking questions about the seemingly contradictory messages of Passover and Easter, it will become more a journey of exploring religious faith than food. But at this stage, let’s be realistic. It’s about the candy and the fuzzy animals.
When you’re in an interfaith family trying to represent both religions in the home, you kind of get the feeling that you’re re-inventing the wheel to some extent. The wheel’s not always perfectly smooth. Sometimes there are bumps or you’re low on air, but you learn more about what you shouldn’t do each year. For example, my kids will learn that not everyone has a big chocolate bunny sitting in a pile of plastic grass awaiting him or her in a white wicker basket on Easter morning. Sure, they’ll get their Easter baskets with proverbial chocolate bunnies, but we certainly won’t make a colossal deal out of it say, during the Seder dinners. At those two dinners, during the first two nights of Passover, they’ll be told stories from the Passover dinner service booklets and served matzo with the traditional apple-honey-nut mixture (called haroseth). Now I can’t guarantee that they’ll eat all the Seder food, like I can’t guarantee that they won’t simply refuse to sit on the Easter bunny’s lap, but I’ll offer them both nonetheless.
For the kids, it can be the best of both worlds. They’ll get to dye Easter eggs, don new Easter duds (OK, so those scratchy clothes won’t be their favorite) and have a special dinner at Grandma and Grandpa Jack’s (again, no guarantees on whether they’ll eat it). Then during Passover, they’ll get a taste of special foods they don’t get to eat throughout the year and read Old Testament stories (think a bearded Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments) and win money by finding the hidden piece of matzo after Seder dinner at Bubbie and Zayde’s (the Hebrew names for grandma and grandpa).
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