Thursday, 17 April 2014

Happy Easter!

photo by Mckenzie Loughrey
I always look forward to Spring. This season brings forth a season of new beginnings, of renewal, of hope, and a fresh start! The crisp mornings, the blooming flowers, the newly cut grass, lovely. As we walked to the park today, I felt a sense of rejuvenation. Coinciding with this wonderful season is the fact that I have been scoring major strides in my battle. This week I went out without my oxygen for the first time since I had it in August. I walked the dog around the block, by myself sans the wheelchair, even he gave me a bewildered look. I went shopping with my daughter. When you're sidelined to your home for almost a year, you learn to appreciate every bit of sunshine that touches your face.
It's Easter and I hope to be granted my own resurrection, my own fresh start! a chance to live again. This Easter I want to thank everyone who cheered me on, everyone who pushed me not to give up, everyone who thought and prayed and is still thinking and praying for me. I'm not alone in this battle. In fact, my strongest arsenal is not something that comes out of a package, or an IV, it comes from the heart, it is Prayers. I wouldn't call myself religious, but I can say I'm spiritual. I know that someone up there is looking after me. When I first announced that I have cancer, family and friends old and new rallied behind me. The outpouring of support in thoughts and prayers were truly touching. You are the team that kept me going. Cancer patients are sometimes too weak to even whisper a prayer, who prays for them then? This is why I feel so blessed to have you all. I know that even when I'm too weak to ask God for strength, you will. During one of my hospital stays, they had to put me in this ward specifically for women with lung problems, it had special monitoring equipment. You can draw curtains for privacy but you still hear every word spoken. There was one patient who was always miserable, she would shout at the nurses, she screams in pain, demands so much attention. She was annoying especially when you're trying to recover and get some sleep. I was in that ward for 3 days and in that time I found out, she lives by herself, she has no family and just one friend. They were training her to work around her condition so she can go back home and live independently. I felt so bad for her, she had so much anger, pain and resentment. Dealing with physical challenges and then having all that negativity behind you is not ideal for healing or for sanity. Whether she chose to be alone, I will never know, but by her demeanor, it was clear she was not happy. I've got prayer brigades all over the world and she's got nothing. I prayed for her that night and whenever I remember.
The support I get from family and friends is just amazing but not surprising, I already know I've got a good bunch behind me. You give me the vigor to keep going. I thank God for all of you. My heartfelt thanks and love. Happy Easter!

The next article is something I wrote 3 years ago for hub pages, it's about Easter Traditions, and I know it has nothing to do with cancer but since I have this special Easter post, thought some of you might be interested.

Easter Food and Traditions
As a child I have always looked forward to Easter, not only in commemoration of Christʼs Resurrection but the family Easter Brunch and Treats. Easter chocolate eggs or egg shaped plastic candy containers were not as popular then, so weʼd boil eggs and paint them with food color for the Easter Egg hunt. My kids look forward to Easter too, apart from Halloween and Valentineʼs Day, Easter offers an astounding array of confectionery selections, another excuse for sweet indulgence.
Like all other holidays observed through the year, food becomes center stage in many celebrations, but none more symbolic than Easter. To get into its symbolism, letʼs trace back its history. Although associated more with the Christian faith, Easter did not originate with Christianity. Easter was taken form the word “Eastre”, the goddess worshipped by the Saxons of Northern Europe. They held festivals at this time of year to celebrate the Spring Equinox which they believe ensured fertility for their land and its people. The Jewish faith celebrates Passover around this same time of the year in commemoration of the Exodus, the freedom from slavery from ancient Egypt. Passover is celebrated for seven or eight days, and coincides with Spring when Easter is celebrated. The two holidays have been entwined since and the word Pasch (Passover) came to mean Easter as well. Christiansʼ celebration of Easter Sunday is a special day of rejoicing Christʼs Resurrection and the end of the Lenten fast.
How we celebrate Easter may come from different origins, but they share common traditions and symbols that we still use today.
Easter brings with it the season of Spring, which brings a concept of rebirth and rejuvenation.
Easter Eggs - Long before Christian times, the egg was regarded as proof of the renewal of life and used to symbolize rebirth in pagan Springtime festivals. Even then, eggs were colored and exchanged as part of the rites to welcome the season. Christians adopted this symbol of renewal, and of immortality as Jesus rose from the dead. For centuries, eggs were among the foods forbidden during Lent, so it was a treat to have at Easter. Traditions were drawn from this symbolism. In Yugoslavia, they write “XV” on the eggs for “Christ is Risen”, a traditional Easter greeting. Slavic countries get their eggs blessed on Holy Saturday then taken home for Easter breakfast. Central European countries are known for their long tradition of elaborately decorated eggs and giving them as gifts. In certain areas in Germany, eggs were hung on trees and bushes. Variations of the egg include fabrications with a hidden surprise inside, the most famous of which is the Nuremberg egg, which is actually a portable watch. The Russian royal family took it to great lengths, they gave out exquisite jeweled eggs made by goldsmith Peter Carl Faberge, still very much sought after by collectors today. The Tsar commissioned the jeweler to make an Easter egg for his wife, and designs became more elaborate through the years. Nowadays, Easter eggs are interpreted mostly with candy and chocolate. The Easter egg hunt came about from the early days where they are regarded as treasures, and finding them, identified with riches. Hens were not confined and these treasures were deposited in unexpected places, hence the hunt. Todayʼs Easter egg hunt is the highlight of many celebrations, along with giving Easter baskets. Catholic churches hold Easter egg hunts after the Easter Sunday mass. With commercialism jumping in, shopping malls hosts Easter egg hunts too, and thereʼs no shortage of restaurants that offer Easter meals. 

Easter Breads
Bread has long played an important role in religious ceremonies, and Easter being celebrated around Springtime festivals, presents us with an overabundance of this staple from different cultures around the world, all steeped in history, symbolism, and folklore. These festive breads are carefully prepared and are often ornate - like braided bread. They will often be laden with luxurious ingredients like saffron, candied fruits and peel, sultanas, eggs, etc. The more famous ones are Hot Cross Buns and Simnel Bread (England), Kulich (Russia), Babka (Ukraine and Poland), Tsoureki (Greece), Houska (Czech Republic), Folare (Portugal), Hormazo (Spain), Paska (Poland), Paastol (Dutch), Pane di Pasqua (Italy), Osterhasen aus Hefeteig (Germany), and so much more. Now we can add cakes, cupcakes, and all Easter themed baked treats.
Chocolate Easter Eggs
The tradition of giving Chocolate Eggs at Easter started in the 19th century in France and Germany. They are given as gifts to bring good fortune to those who receive it. 

Easter Ham
Serving Ham at Easter goes back in the early days when there was no refrigeration. Meat was slaughtered in the fall, and pork not consumed during winter was cured to be eaten for spring. The curing process took a long time and the hams would be ready around the time of Easter, so it became the celebratory dinner.
Roast Lamb
Roast lamb as Easter dinner goes back to the first Passover where the sacrificial lamb was roasted and eaten, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. As Hebrews converted to Christianity, they brought their traditions with them and these traditions merged. Christians refer to Jesus as the lamb of God.
So, what about the Easter bunny?
The Easter bunny, like the eggs traces its origins to pre-Christian times. The ancient saxons celebrated the return of spring with a big festival. The rabbit, known to be extraordinarily fertile, symbolized this season of rebirth. Although there is no direct reference to Christianity, because this is celebrated around the Christian Easter, the tradition was adopted. The rabbit was interpreted to deliver eggs on Easter Sunday. They would be wrapped in gold leaf or boiled with flowers, and other plants to achieve bright colors to symbolize the Easter sun. These eggs were given as presents on Easter morning, much like Father Christmas, the decorated eggs were delivered by the Easter bunny to good children.
There's your Easter trivia, hope that was fun to read as it was writing about it. :) I've posted this a few days ahead of Easter, we have friends over for Easter and I promised my daughter we'll be making cookies.