|The baskets are ready (all same sizes this year, after some issues over different-size baskets in previous years; the bog one is the collective basket)|
It’s Easter Sunday today. We Dutch are not a very religious people. At least not outwardly. Only 17% of the 16 million Dutch visited the church in 2009. it is probably even less now. Actually, of those 16-something million Dutch, only half consider themselves ‘having a religion’. (51.6 %, of which the vast majority – 44% christian Source ) In the European Union, the number of ‘active believers’ is somewhere around the 52 % with Malta and Romania in the 90’s, and Estland in the 16%, but that makes sense as it was a former Soviet Republic (Communism frowned heavily upon religion) (Source).
|What else can you do with a basket?|
And so Easter doesn’t have as much significance to us (Dutch) as it does to the Lebanese. To most of us, it just means we’re having a holiday, even though all holidays originally had a religious – whether pagan or not – significance, even Halloween and Thanksgiving
|The wait is long and difficult; when can we start looking?|
It is a pity that we somehow lose sight of the origins of most holidays, but luckily part of my extended family here celebrates it vigorously. There is the annual Easter lunch with the Easter Egg Hunt attached to it in the garden of the father of the wife of the brother of my husband. And everyone is coming, whether they're christian or not, or whether it's their Easter or not (the orthodox celebrate Easter next Sunday). I have mentioned this before. In Holland, that connection would qualify them as strangers. Here, it’s direct family. And the cousins of the wife of the brother of my husband come as well, and so do the wives of the brothers of the father of the wife of the brother of my husband.
|And the hunt is one, with the smallest among them claiming the entire booty|
Still with me? And the parents of the wives of the brothers of the wife of the brother of my husband are there as well. In Lebanon they have names for family connections like that. In Holland you would never ever meet these people, safe at an isolated wedding or funeral. Here I meet them every year. And the group is growing, as children get married, and so their extended family gets added. We were ranging from age 96 (3 were in their 90’s) to 4 months old; A bit like an Italian family. But I assume most people that live around the Mediterranean share these characteristics; large families, lots of celebrations and parties.
|Then it's the grown-ups turn to see if they left any. But our kids are like a bunch of locusts; they picked the place clean.|
And if you take into account that most Lebanese families have about half of their family members living abroad (on my husband’s side alone – and he is from a very small family) there are already 3 uncles, an aunt, and 11 cousins living outside), you can imagine what kind of celebrations we’d have if everyone were to be in town.
|Time for the re-distribution of the eggs and other paraphernalia|
The Easter Egg Hunt went well; the weather was perfect, we remembered this time not to place the eggs in places where the sun could reach them, each child had the exact same basket (different basket sizes can cause a serious predicament) and in the end we did a redistribution of the goodies to ensure nobody ended up upset. We even got everyone to sit down for the annual ‘family’ picture. Now if that is not an accomplishment, I don't know what is.
|And even the family picture worked out just fine this year.|