St Lucians love to eat. Almost any life event can be tied back to some kind of food. Celebrating a birthday, inevitably you get a chorus of, ‘where’s the cake?’ Birth of a child? ’I passing for a drink.’ Funeral? You better be prepared to have food for the masses and take away plates. Yup, we enjoy a good meal. Any meal really.
So I was not surprised by a colleague’s comments as he made his way out on Thursday afternoon. He wished me and the other staff a Happy Easter and asked another co-worker to save him some turkey. Turkey? There was a massive pause in the room and perplexed faces. After all, this was not Christmas or an American Thanksgiving celebration. And I said as much. His matter of fact response was, “I have no idea what people do at Easter.” And he is not alone. The confusion was not helped by the displacement of Carnival from February to July, which was usually an indicator for most as to the commencement of the Lenten season.
Even though Easter is arguably the greatest feast on the Catholic calendar, many are still in the dark on certain aspects. It’s rapidly approaching the end for 2014 but it’s never too late for a refresher. So here goes:
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season. It is a period of fasting, reflection, and abstinence. One of the most recognizable customs is a cross of ashes on the forehead, reminding you, and everyone else, of your sins. Just in case you forgot. Because some of us do.
It takes us all the way into Holy Week, the final days before Easter Sunday. This is ushered in with a Palm Sunday mass, representing Christ’s arrival into Jerusalem and the waving palm branches of those who greeted him. Holy Thursday is the official end of Lent and the day of the Last Supper.
The most somber day of Holy Week is Good Friday. This was the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. For diehards it is traditional to fast on this day as a nod to the suffering that the Saviour endured. On Saturday evening, a vigil is held in preparation for Christ’s resurrection on glorious Easter Sunday.
My religious education teachers, nuns at Catholic school and catechists would be proud, don’t you think?
For those still playing “name that holiday,” it is the one where you eat smoke mackerel, accras and penny piece. Definitely not turkey.