Easter is one of my favorite holidays. I remember as a kid growing up in the rebellious Lutheran faith (no incense and confessionals for us, thank you very much), how Easter signified the start of new things. We all got new duds, things began to grow from the ground, and Jesus rose from the dead. And best of all, before we left for church, we tore through the house to find our easter baskets. We could have only one item from the basket before we headed off for church, where we sat and fidgeted because we wanted to get back home to the candy.
In the course of my adult life, I've gained and lost a few things. One of the things I've lost is a formal religion. That's right, I'm a lapsed Lutheran. Even rebellion can't hold me for long. Yet one of the things I've gained is respect for the holiday, and how in different parts of the country, it is celebrated in very unique ways.
This became especially apparent during my years in Texas. I lived in Austin, which was very close to the "hill country" of Texas. In the hill country the holiday takes shape in the form of the Easter Fires celebration. Today, it's a big celebration with a parade which includes nearly everyone in town, and during an annual reenactment in the evening before Easter, bonfires are lit in the hills which surround of town of Fredericksburg. But the story behind the event is what's truly worth celebrating. Legend has it that the early residents of the town were in peril one Easter, since the local Indians were in the hills and threatening to come into the settlement and kill everyone. The town fathers and the Indian elders met to try to iron out a compromise and the Indians waited in the hills, lighting fires to keep warm. Fire was spotted by the children in the community and they were frightened, so an inventive mother made up the tale of how the Easter bunny was boiling eggs over the fires in order to make Easter eggs for the children.
Fortunately, the town fathers and the Indians eventually came to an agreement, and all the townspeople were spared. Some of today's residents of Fredericksburg can trace their roots back to these early pioneers who watched the fires on the hillsides and feared for their lives. And the lesson to be learned? A good story trumps everything.