Though the meaning of Easter is different for each student, traditions are a common bond for some students, as is the changes that come each year to their Easter celebration.
Emily Tinnel, a communications disorders graduate student, said the meaning of Easter has changed for her over the years and is now more focused on her faith life.
“I was raised in a Christian family that went to church every Sunday, but I never really felt the true importance of Easter until a few years ago,” Tinnel said. “I knew that Easter was celebrating Jesus’ resurrection, but I felt that it was something that was just focused on for one-two hours inchurch, and Good Friday was just a day we got off school, not one of the most important day of Jesus’ life on Earth and my life as a Christian because that is the day my sins were completely paid for.”
Whether faith is a part of the celebration or not, some students spend the holiday surrounded by family. Makenzie Wright, a senior nursing student, said, for her, Easter is about joining together for a meal and fellowship.
“Easter is really about being with family,” Wright said. “We always have a big family dinner, and we all live pretty close, but we all come together for Easter.”
Family dinners and coming together are a part of Easter for Tinnel as well, she said, but this year there are added celebrations.
“This year, my dad’s birthday and my aunt’s birthday fall on Easter weekend, so we will be having my family Easter dinner on Saturday, with a combined Easter dinner/birthday party,” Tinnel said. “But my mom is cooking dinner on Sunday too, so it will be like a two-day long feast.”
For some, Easter is not celebrated on just one day but is prepared for over a period of time. Some Christians prepare for Easter during the church season of Lent. Lent is a 40-day preparation, leading up to Easter, where many Christians give up items or practices to prepare for the holiday.
Lent, for Tinnel, means more this year, making her Easter celebration different than before, she said.
“Growing up, I didn’t really learn about Lent, or participate in it, so it has been difficult for me to engage in this season in a way that is more meaningful to me than giving up chocolate or pop for a month,” Tinnel said. “On the more materialistic, culture driven side of it, I have a few Easter decorations, but I do not feel like this holiday is as culturally driven, like Christmas, so it is easier to not buy into the hype of decorating and buying presents and candy for Easter baskets and focus on the real reason for Easter.”
As faith and families grow, some Easter traditions may transform. Wright said her family’s annual Easter egg hunt has changed over the years just as her family has.
“A lot has changed for my family,” Wright said. “The kids are getting older, which is fun to see them grow. Our Easter egg hunts now are more advanced, since they are older. A lot of my family has also moved away, which means not everyone will be able to come. This means it will be a little smaller.”
No matter what Easter stands for to them, students are preparing to spend the holiday their own way.