I parked my car in front of my house on April 5 – Palm Sunday, in our Greek Orthodox Church – and as I exited was greeted by joyous shouts of “Happy Easter!” from my neighbors’ kids. Their parents followed – they were on
their way to their grandparents’ house a couple of blocks away. “Happy Easter,” said my neighbor. “I know it’s not your Easter, but –” I interrupted: “That’s ok, thank you, and happy Easter to you, too.”
Looking at my fistful of palms – I like to make my own cross, from scratch – she said:
“So today’s your Palm Sunday – so, Easter next week, right?” I replied: “Yes. But we’re
having dinner at my in-laws’ today. Two Easters are better than one!”
My in-laws, by the way, are both Greek. My father-in-law, born in Greece, has always
been Greek Orthodox. But my mother-in-law’s parents left the Orthodox Church when
she was very young; they preferred a Protestant parish in their community, in Western
Pennsylvania. So, my wife and her two brothers were raised in that denomination. It
was not until my wife studied in Greece for a year that she decided, at age 21, to
convert to Greek Orthodoxy.
So, our first of two Easter dinners was at my in-laws’ house, with 10 people around the
table. Ten Christians, five of them Orthodox, five not.
Five with palms, five celebrating Easter.
So what? Is having two Easters really such a big deal?
At this point in the United States, with so many “mixed
marriages,” two Easters is becoming more and more commonplace. I imagine many of yo
u reading this have the same type of situation in your own families.
The way I see it, it’s twice the food, twice the laughter, twice the love and good times.
I grew up in New York City with a lot of other Greek kids, many of who would call our
Easter the “real” Easter. Later in life, a Catholic friend joked to me: “why do you Greeks
call our Easter ‘American’ Easter – when it is the Easter celebrated everywhere else in
the world, except Greece?” Well, not everywhere, but point well taken. It’s really
“Eastern Easter” and “Western Easter.”
Would it be better if all Christians could come together as one – and have one Christian
Church as it was originally, instead of thousands – yes, thousands! – of variations? Of
course it would. But is it likely that we’ll see such a thing on our lifetimes? Probably not.
So, rather than complain, how about we just enjoy the advantage of two Easters. It’s
like having two birthday parties!
To those who are about to celebrate Easter, to those who already did, and to those who
do not celebrate Easter at all (because you are not Christian), this Special Edition is for
you – for all of you.