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Carol Kostakos Petranek
Friday, March 16 2012

Turning Hearts: Easter in Heaven

By Carol Kostakos Petranek Notify me when this author publishesComment on Article
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I came across this photo last weekend as I was scanning pictures from my mother's album. It was Easter, 1981, and our extended family had congregated at my parents' home for a traditional Greek Easter dinner.

 Easter 1981l-r: Uncle Nick Pouletsos, Uncle Peter Connell, Aunt Pauline Connell, Aunt Frieda Stakis

This photo has unleashed a plethora of memories for me -- a lifetime of family gatherings and activities. While my Easter table will be bereft of these and other elders, my grandparents' will now be complete; brothers and sisters reunited; cousins together. A loving family on earth now together in heaven.

It is tempting to speculate on how my parents and relatives will celebrate Easter in heaven. One thing I believe is that they will: "Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him." (Romans 6:8)

As I prepare for this most holy of holidays, I cling tofamilial and cultural patterns as my anchor of tradition, and to the Savior as my anchor of faith.

  • Our traditional Easter dinner of roast lamb symbolizes the Lamb of God, our Redeemer.
  • Our recitation of "Christos Anesti," (Christ has Risen) attests to the reality of the resurrection.
  • Bright red eggs "kokkinaavga" on the table symbolize the blood of Christ that was shed for each of us.
  • The breaking of eggs symbolizes Christ breaking the bands of death and coming forth from the tomb. Each person takes a red egg and cracks the ends with another person. This proceeds around the table until one individual is left with an unbroken egg, and he/she can expect to have good luck throughout the year.
  • Partaking of the "tsoureki," or Easter bread, reminds us that Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. (John 6:48: "I am that bread of life.")

On Easter Sunday, my husband and I will travel to our son's home to celebrate with his family. On Greek Easter, which falls the following weekend, we will travel to my cousin's home to celebrate again -- this time, with our extended family. As my parents and their siblings traveled to be together on holidays, now it is my turn to visit my cousins and continue the good traditions which have united our family for generations.

As I read the words of the Apostle Paul this Easter season, I truly believe my family in heaven will unite with me in rejoicing: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according tohis abundant mercy hath begotten to us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1 Peter 1:3).

Christos Anesti to you and your family!


Carol KostakosPetranek is one of the Directors of the Washington DC Family History Center and a Volunteer at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.



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