The Gorgeous Weirdness of Easter

Easter is a weird holiday for me–as it is for many others, no doubt. Growing up in Greater Boston with a Jewish father but not mother, the only people who thought I was Jewish were the gentiles. The Jews of our neighborhood literally lived on the other side of the tracks from my house– the right side, if you want to delve deeper into the metaphor, up on West Newton Hill–and with my blond hair and messy small house I no more felt I belonged there than in my Irish-Italian neighborhood, known as the Lake.

During bar mitzvah season and the high holidays I felt left out; on CCD Tuesdays (the Catholic kids’ equivalent of Sunday School) I felt equally left out. But the worst was Easter, when Jews were blatantly maligned by the local priests, some of whom were later outed as pedophiles in the Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigation.

Once I attended Easter Sunday at Our Ladies Church down the street. I’d begged a friend to let me tag along with her family because I wanted to dress up, wolf chocolate eggs. Decked out in an enormous hat I decorated myself a la Anne of Green Gables, I felt quite proud until her father pointed at me as the priest launched into his “Jews killed Jesus” song and dance. When I told my father about it after I got home, he swore. “Who the fuck accuses my kid of deicide?” I loved him for that.

Later when I really unpacked the story of the holiday I got even more confused. As a kid from a witch family, I’d seen many ghosts of the recently departed and had never confused them for the resurrected. Wasn’t it possible that?…..

Even later, I decided it didn’t matter whether the story was mishegos. Jesus came to me when I was 17 and in absolute danger–a story for another time–and after that I decided he was my kind of Jew. The kind who heals everyone, loves everyone. Drinks wine with everyone. And, maybe, the kind who never really says goodbye. Love is forever, don’t you know.

As for Easter itself–well, I never got over the inestimable weirdness of a holiday in which Jesus and a large magical bunny jockey for attention.

Now that I’ve no doubt offended everyone, let me conclude by saying the reason I sort of celebrate Easter despite its queasy associations is I dig pageantry, especially the sort with bold pastels. Also I love the food. I doubt I’ll celebrate with anyone else this Sunday but rest assured I’m buying lamb, farrow, mint, blood oranges, bright wine, asparagus, and tiny peas and chocolates. Rebirth in all its discombobulating glory is always beautiful, especially in our kitchens.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy