Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

Easter is obviously a Christian Holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Christ from the grave. This miracle is central to the Christian faiths. If you cannot believe that Christ arose from the dead, then you will find it difficult to believe that he was the son of God and that he performed miracles.
In the Rio Grande Valley, the majority of the population is Catholic. Whether we believe the miracle or not, most of us celebrate Easter. When you drive around in the week prior to the Easter Holiday, you will see vendors lining the the main streets with gift baskets, piñatas, and cascarones. The baskets are usually pastel colored with gifts for the children including stuffed animals, candy , toys, and other trinkets. The piñatas are made in bright pinks, blues, yellows, and other quasi-pastel colors. They are in the shapes of rabbits, eggs, chicks, and other commercial symbols of Easter. Cascarones are egg shells that have been emptied, washed, decorated, and filled with confetti. The cascarones are a great deal of fun because you crack them over the heads of friends and family. So, you'll see plenty of valley residents walk around with confetti in their hair. Some people also fill the eggs with flour, which is more difficult to take out. If your arm is fast enough, you don't have to catch somebody to crack a cascaron on their head, you can toss it hard and the egg's velocity will cause it to smash open on impact. It stings a little too.
Other customs of this region include the ubiquitous barbecue. People in the valley don't need an excuse to fire up the grill. But today, it is a for sure thing. The common fare at most barbecues are fajitas, chicken, and sausage. For those of us who have been anglicized, you may see hot dogs, hamburgers, and maybe even bratwursts. Side dishes include frijoles a la charra, which are beans with peppers, bacon, tomato and onion. These can be spicy, depending on the cook. Other side dishes are common to other parts of the country, such as mashed potatos,  potato salad, corn on the cob, etc. Some families may not have had enough of lentils, nopales, fish or shrimp patties, and capirotada (a sort of bread pudding) for lent and will bring those out too.
The parks are generally packed during Easter Sunday. In Mission, Anzaldua's park is a favorite destination, and is right on the Rio Grande River. Of course, there are plenty of parks around. If you have a large home, you may find that your family comes over to your place for Easter. The reason you need a park or large place is, of course, for the Easter egg hunt. After the hunt, you get all the kids together and take a whack at the piñata. Afterwards, you let the kids run around while you chat with other adults and enjoy a cold beer. Life is good.

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