Thursday, March 20, 2008


After living 20 years in the mideastern part of Brazil, we moved to the far south and a new reality. One of the happy surprises was Easter. This part of the country had been settled by German immigrants, and I discovered we had some things in common--hiding Easter baskets, for instance (which my husband says is what his Mom always did). Here people talked about "making a nest" and stores actually sold Easter baskets. Some families color eggs, but more common is the tradition (in other parts of Brazil as well) of filling the empty egg shell with candied peanuts. I somehow felt like I had come home!
In the USA, with Easter always falling in the spring, Christ's ressurrection was a perfect fit with nature bursting with new life: baby chicks and rabbits, the first robins, tender green grass, baby leaves to dress dry, bare branches, snow melting, crocuses and tulips blooming. The whole earth is an orchestra of color and song shouting "Christ is risen!" Well, in the southern hemisphere, the analogy isn't so perfect. Easter comes in the fall of the year. Ah! but I have found nature's thrilling signs of Easter in this country as well. First of all, the kapok trees bloom. The pink petals fall softly to the ground, making a beautiful carpet. How many times did my kids look for eggs on grass covered by kapok petals?? Then there is the uncultivated maricá bush that grows in ditches alongside the road and in town. It is native to only the southern part of Brazil as well as to Paraguay, Argentina and Uruaguay, and the southern part of the US. The maricá's white bloosoms resemble miniature snow balls and paint a landscape of white. Last, but not least, is marcela, a medicinal plant, ie. (achyrocline satureioides). The legend associated with this plant is that in order to obtain its therapeutic benefits one must gather it during holy week, preferably early in the morning on Good Friday before the dew disappears. A few days ago on one of my walks, I accidently came across a huge area covered with it. Since I don't believe in the legend, I happily gathered an armload of marcela to decorate my house for Easter--I love its fragrance--and for making tea. (They say it is good for tummy upsets.)
Although I still associate those beautiful white lilies with Easter I have found other symbols in my adopted country that give me the same happy feeling that Easter is just around the corner. Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia!

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