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Easter Examined: ECS students’ holiday traditions

By Louisa Benatovich

Student Reporter

Whether termed Holy Egg Day, Resurrection Day or the long-anticipated end of Lent, Easter is a moveable Christian holiday loved by all sorts of believers.

Despite its religious affiliations, the date of the illusive feast is determined by something rather scientific. Easter, strangely, is celebrated on the first Sunday following the full Moon that occurs on or after the spring solstice.

Over the centuries, Easter has evolved into something much more than commemorating the death and reappearance of a certain prominent religious figure — Easter is now a day of eggs, chocolate and games. 

Whether pious or not, families all across the area find ways to bring the joy of a pastel-washed Easter to their young ones. Here in Ellicottville, traditions vary from door to door. 

“Some families have Christmas or Halloween, but Easter is our best holiday,” says Lindsay Swalcy, an Ellicottville Central sophomore. “Every Easter, our baskets our hidden, and we have to wait until all of our siblings are up before we can find them.”

If her someone accidentally finds someone else’s basket on our hunt, Lindsay said absolutely no one can say a word. They can only dig into their baskets when everyone finds theirs.

“My sister, brother and I have made it a tradition to give whatever we didn’t want to our oldest sister,” she said. “She used to like to eat all…not so much anymore. Now that I’m older, I can hide a basket for my mom, too.”

Megan Hartsell, an ECS junior, has a similar story.

“Every year, I find my Easter basket like clockwork, hidden in plain sight behind the recliner,” she says. “Then we go to church and have a nice, relaxing day.” 

My own mother, who grew up in England, had completely different Easter traditions as a girl. 

“My grandma used to make us snow houses,” she said. “She used old cardboard boxes and fashioned a roof out of extra cardboard and cotton balls. Inside, there was always one big chocolate egg, little chocolates and hands-on activities to do, too.

“That’s why I always made your baskets with coloring books and crayons,” she added, smiling. 

Some families celebrate Easter with a big family get-together. Abby Sonnenberg, an ECS senior, and her family enjoy this tradition, inviting family members from across the state to partake in the yearly feast.

Many Lent-practicing Catholics welcome the end of a 40-day fast from their favorite food item or activity. Some abstinences included fried foods, red meat and, a strange one, chocolate milk. 

Other families have nothing to do with Easter at all, instead choosing to celebrate the local Polish tradition of Dyngus Day, another day of feasting and joy. Pierogies, polish sausage and sauerkraut are relished all across the Western New York area.

This year, Earth Day happened to fall alongside Dyngus Day on Monday, April 22. With many choosing to celebrate all three holidays, this April provided for a veritable trifecta of happiness, hearth and home.

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