Easter is early this year: the holiday runs from Good Friday on 30th March through to Easter Monday on 2nd April. Religion is strong in Saint Lucia and Easter is observed by many as a time of solemnity and for reflection. Even so, remembering the resurrection of Christ is a cause for celebration. Here’s how we do it in Saint Lucia.
This is the day of celebration, with the fun of beach parties and family gatherings. There is a glorious, colourful sight in the skies: kite-flying, by children and adults. For generations, kite-flying has been an Easter pastime here, originally with home-made kites but increasingly with shop-bought ones. Friendly rivalry exists: who can fly their kite the highest? For the longest time? Do the most dives and swoops and acrobatic manoeuvres? It’s a joy to watch but feel free to join in.
EASTER EGG HUNT
Imported from other countries, the tradition of an Easter egg hunt is now an annual event in some communities and at many resorts. Mix in a little face painting and an Easter bonnet competition, and the kids are well and truly happy.
The Catholic churches hold a procession that we call “Way of the Cross’. Early in the morning, people walk slowly through the streets, following a group carrying a wooden crucifix. Some carry candles; all are praying and meditating. Many Lucians spend Good Friday in fasting and prayer. It is not a day for merriment. We generally avoid the beach as our tradition is that one should not wash in rivers that day, or bathe in the sea, or do gardening. The thought is that ploughing the ground would prick Christ’s body and that rivers and seawater would turn into his blood.
A delicious ginger wafer biscuit is consumed over Easter that we call ‘penepis’. This derives from the French ‘pain d’espice’ (spiced bread) although there is another explanation for the name: the shortened version of ‘penny-a-piece’ as the wafers used to be sold for a penny each in days gone by when the currency here was the British pounds, shillings and pence. Like many other countries, hot cross buns are now popular at Easter.