Fast­ing and Feast­ing @ Lent & Easter

@ Lent and Easter

Stabroek News: Lifestyle - - Contents - By Cyn­thia Nel­son

When I was a child, the sea­sons of Lent and Easter were seen as the worst of times and the best of times. When you are an adult, they can be seen purely as the best of times. For an adult, Lent can of­fer re­flec­tion and ret­ro­spec­tion, a chance for change for the bet­ter, while Easter can mark new be­gin­nings. Res­o­lu­tions.

Grow­ing up, Lent for my sib­lings and me, meant de­pri­va­tion and be­ing sub­jected wholly to the will of our mother. We con­sid­ered it to be the worst of times. Lent for us was filled with at­ten­dance at Fri­day church ser­vices, when we would rather be do­ing fun things. It meant Wed­nes­days and Fri­days with­out meat and when she felt like it, there would be fish on some Fri­days. Be­cause mother would ab­stain from sweets dur­ing Lent, it au­to­mat­i­cally meant that we as chil­dren would also be de­prived of her cakes, co­conut buns, cas­sava pone and mauby. It was the worst of times, I tell you.

Holy Thurs­day would ar­rive with a som­bre church ser­vice in the evening. As we read­ied our­selves, the sweet smell of cin­na­mon, cloves and nut­meg told us that there were freshly made Cross Buns that we would be ex­pected to have for break­fast the fol­low­ing morn­ing. At the end of the Holy Thurs­day ser­vice, my mother in­sisted that even if we did

go home af­ter the ser­vice, we were to re­turn some time in the evening to “keep watch” at the al­tar of the Blessed Sacra­ment.

Dur­ing the vigil, we girls – my sis­ter and friends – would no­tice how happy and con­tent the al­tar boys seemed to be, while we were tired and sleepy. My brother, who was an al­tar boy, would later re­veal to us the “se­cret” to their “hap­pi­ness”.

Be­cause the Holy Thurs­day night vigil would be long, some­times stretch­ing just past mid­night, the al­tar boys worked in pairs as they took turns kneel­ing at the al­tar and keep­ing watch with the rest of us. The rest of them would be gath­ered in the dark, out­side of the church, laugh­ing, talk­ing and fill­ing their bel­lies with Chi­nese food they had bought from the restau­rant not too far away from the Church (the restau­rant was some­where be­fore Ara­paima, Qik Serv). How we en­vied them. When they

had their fill of food and drink, they got dressed in their tai­lored, long white gowns, adorned with shaped sashes that sat smartly just off their waists. With hands clasped rev­er­ently, they’d take up their po­si­tions and kneel. How in­no­cent they looked.

Good Fri­day morn­ing meant a meal of cross buns, cheese, jam or but­ter with tea. I found the en­tire meal ho-hum, but you know what, I ate it be­cause I knew that my next meal would not be un­til later in the evening af­ter re­turn­ing from the long 3-hour ser­vice at church. My mother fasted on Good Fri­day and that meant that we had to fast too. Wa­ter was the only thing we were al­lowed to drink. While mom’s fast started at 6 in the morn­ing, ours started af­ter break­fast. And guess what would be on the menu for the evening meal? Ei­ther an all-veg­e­tar­ian dish or some­thing with fish. Back then, I saw it as the worst of times. All my sib­lings and I kept think­ing was, just one more day be­fore life re­turns to nor­mal. And we knew it was go­ing to be a good re­turn be­cause we heard about all the plans for the Easter Sun­day feast! And best of all, we could busy our­selves help­ing my Un­cle and cousins put the fin­ish­ing touches to our kites!

We al­ways got new out­fits for Easter.

Mom pre­sented us with choco­late Easter eggs. We could run and play. It was like Christ­mas. It was the best of times!

Our fam­ily al­ways went to the Easter Satur­day Night Church ser­vice; this meant that we got to sleep in on the Sun­day morn­ing. While chil­dren were out­side busy­ing them­selves with their kites and tak­ing them out to test-fly be­fore the af­ter­noon out­ing at the sea­wall, the adults were busy pre­par­ing so many dif­fer­ent dishes that there would be need to join two dining ta­bles. The meat of sheep was a fo­cal point of the meal, whether it was lamb (young sheep’s meat) or mut­ton (older sheep’s meat). Roast pork and chicken would be there too. Pies – savoury and sweet, sal­ads and Mex­i­can (Span­ish) rice as well as the ubiq­ui­tous plat­ter of fried rice.

While many fam­i­lies packed pic­nic bas­kets and headed to the park or sea wall, ours never did. We al­ways had the big fam­ily meal at home and then went out in the af­ter­noon to fly our kites. As a child I was in awe of how some­thing so sim­ple – wood and coloured pa­per glued to­gether, with a tail of fab­ric at­tached – could soar to such heights. There is a squeal of de­light that truly ex­presses the feel­ing of amaze­ment, one that comes from a child.

The sea­sons. Lent and Easter. Fast­ing and Feast­ing. Times to cher­ish, for­ever.

Happy Easter Every­body!

(Photo by Cyn­thia Nel­son)

Cross Buns

(Photo by Cyn­thia Nel­son)

Steamed fish with Ground Pro­vi­sions

(Photo by Cyn­thia Nel­son)

Easter is a per­fect time for a tea party.

(Photo by Cyn­thia Nel­son)

Baked Lamb Shoul­der & Roast Pota­toes

(Photo by Cyn­thia Nel­son)

Mex­i­can (Span­ish) Rice

(Photo by Cyn­thia Nel­son)

Baked Chicken

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