Thursday, March 26, 2009

Easter Creativity around the world

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — Creativity and traditions make Easter special all over the planet.
I still have fond childhood memories of Easter in the Midwest, where family celebrations included Technicolor hard-boiled eggs and bunnies and maybe a new Bible with a white cover. A brand new robin’s egg blue dress with a matching little purse and shoes. Clove-covered ham and hot-cross buns.
As a New Mexican, my memory repertoire has expanded.
Ramos and condoleros. Savory capirotada. Colorful cascarones, egg shells filled with confetti and small treats.
If you’re new to the Southwest, some explanations might be in order.
Some native New Mexicans look forward all year to capirotada, a traditional bread pudding that is made with toasted, day-old bread and a syrup of water, brown sugar, cloves and cinnamon. Other crucial ingredients include raisins, peanuts and/or pecans, honey, coconut, and lots of cheese ... preferably cheddar from what I’ve been told.
In Las Cruces, I’ve enjoyed watching members of the Tortugas Pueblo collect desert materials to make ramos and condoleros for Palm Sunday. Watching the camaraderie of those who create the ceremonial Easter decorations is a joyful and moving experience in itself, rather different from the harried Sunday school teachers I remember in Michigan, trying to gather and hand out enough dried up imported pond fronds for a respectable church ceremony. Sometimes we gave up and made our “palms” out of cardboard tubes and green crepe paper.
On a cruise through the Caribbean with friends, I woke up one Easter morning aboard ship to find a colorful fleet of kites rising in the winds on shore. In the island nation of Grenada, kite flying represents the resurrection of Christ.
Since then, kite flying is something I’ve tried to incorporate into my own family Easter celebrations.
This year, I’ve enjoyed hearing about some other seasonal traditions.
Karen Swaney e-mailed me about her Good Friday Easter Flamingo Brunch, now in its ninth year, which attracts up to 26 people, including fans who drive in from Arizona.
“It’s neighbors, relatives and friends. The whole house and yard get decorated with flamingo attire, the guests wear pink, get a flamingo silly gift of some type and for fun we have a Flamingo Basket Hunt in the back yard. We also have a Flamingo Queen and Flamingo Lady In Waiting — some years new people are crowned and other years we just ‘re-Flamingo’ them. They have tiaras, the Queen has a pink boa and I have a big pink silk piece that we put in the back yard so they can walk the Pink Carpet. We have hors d’oeuvres (I provide mainly shrimp as that is what Flamingos eat to keep their pink color) and a potluck type brunch,” Swaney reports.
She notes that it’s “silly and fun” and enjoyed by guests both old and young.
Trish Higdon is part of a group hoping to start a new Easter bonnet decorating tradition here this year.
“We’re inviting women to bring hats and glue guns and join us from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 4, in the parish hall at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 518 N. Alameda Blvd. We’ll have materials to help decorate the hats and then the ladies can all wear them to Easter services,” said Higdon, who stressed that the Easter bonnet decorating fiesta is free and open to everyone.
“We heard from a parishioner about doing this and decided it would be something fun to try here,” she said.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

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