By Alexia Saleem
I can’t believe Easter Sunday was only a week ago. It feels like a lifetime ago, even though the kids have yet to finish off their chocolate Easter eggs and we making our way through the delicious flaounes kindly gifted to us by my mum.
This is the second Easter we celebrated in lockdown. Last year I don’t think we even celebrated. I’m not sure anyone did, as it was during the island’s first lockdown when Covid was something we were just getting our heads round and a lot of people were terrified of venturing outdoors. Even the churches kept their doors closed. This year seemed to be more relaxed, as the measures were less stringent, and the weather was also much better, which always helps.
Another thing that has changed from last year is that the kids seem to have acquired a taste for flaounes, which absurdly gives me a thrill. I loved watching them both tucking into them after they’d been warmed in the oven with great gusto for breakfast like proper little Greeks. Plain flaounes though as the ones with raisins seem to conflict their idea that something needs to be savoury or sweet.
Being true children of more than one culture though this Easter has seen them grasp the concept of eating copious amounts of chocolate. My son was counting down the days to get his egg on Easter Sunday. My husband made the mistake of telling him Easter was on Holy Saturday not Easter Sunday as he got his days mixed up so you can imagine our son’s face when I had to tell him he had to wait one more day before digging into the chocolate. It literally crumpled and he sobbed his heart out at the thought of waiting an extra day before attacking the egg of his dreams that he had spotted at the kiosk ten days beforehand.
To my horror, in just 12 months my children have not only acquired a taste for chocolate Easter eggs, but for cheap chocolate. They used to love good quality dark chocolate – something I smugly prided myself on, believing them to have developed a connoisseur’s palate thanks to my refusal to give them sugar until they were three. Not so it would appear. Now, they think dark chocolate is too bitter and turn their noses up at it. It has to be milk chocolate and sweet. When it comes to Easter eggs, it also has to come with a plastic toy, hardly a positive indication of the quality of the chocolate. In fact, I think they like the toy more than they do the chocolate. They just eat the latter because it’s there and it beats broccoli and curried mung beans for lunch.
The religious aspect of Easter also went totally over their heads, although they did love watching Holy Saturday mass from our balcony. I tried explaining what it was about, but they lost interest and were more concerned about how it means the countdown for when they would get their hands on their Easter eggs would begin.
We live over the road from a church so we heard the bells ringing twice a day throughout Holy week. Holy Saturday was the service they enjoyed best with all the lit candles and fireworks and although I didn’t keep them up for it, I didn’t have to. The church bells kept them from sleeping as did the service blasted on outdoor megaphones for the entire neighbourhood to hear.
The two of them bounded out of bed to see what all the commotion was about when the service got to the point most people are in attendance and leaned over our balcony screeching hello to passers-by down below, while giving us a running commentary about what was going on, how many people there were and what the priests were doing. It was hugely entertaining for us, but I’m not sure how entertaining it was for other people.
Not only was Easter this year not like last year but it was not like the Easter celebrations I remember growing up. But for my kids with little to compare it to, this year was a blast. They got to have chocolate Easter eggs, they got to see their grandparents, they got to crack eggs and they got to tuck into flaouna for breakfast. In their world, it was the perfect Easter. And in fact, having lived through it with them, and having seen it through their eyes, it was indeed the perfect Easter. Quieter, more intimate, but no less special and fun.