TONY BEST: Easter practices in Barbados
BOSTON, NEW YORK CITY or Plainfield in New Jersey may not endure the tribulations of the frozen tundra of Canada, but the observances of Christianity’s Holy Week, the solemnity of crucifixion day and the joy, excitement and the promise of better times which Easter and the resurrection trigger, herald the arrival of spring and the return of warm weather.
They also bring back memories of kite flying, hot cross buns and sumptuous meals on Easter Sunday and the bank holiday which follow.
“In Barbados, Good Friday was always regarded as being very solemn, a time when families were intent on going to church and participating in worship that focused primarily on the passion and death of Jesus Christ,” said Reverend Peter Fenty, a Barbadian who is the highest placed black cleric in 200-plus year history of Canada’s Anglican Church. Good Friday was “a reminder to us of the ultimate sacrifice made by Christ for the sake of humanity. ….Beyond that comes resurrection, Easter Sunday, notwithstanding the trials, tribulations, difficulties and challenges we can rise above to things that give us hope, joy and meaning” and serves as a reminder that “death isn’t the end.”
Fenty recalled his boyhood during which he experienced the different emotions spawned by the crucifixion and the resurrection.
“The kites were very pretty, made of all shapes and sizes and that was a manifestation of the creative side of who we are” (as Bajans and human beings,) he said from his office in Toronto. “God has wonderfully made us to be creative and innovative and to do wonderful things. For me Good Friday and Easter were good balances – the reality of sin, the reality of pain grief, suffering and death. And then there is Easter which symbolises resurrection. We cannot allow ourselves to be stuck even when confronted with the challenges of life. We must look behind the dark clouds and see the silver lining to discover what is possible and what we can do.”
Like Fenty, Adrian Mapp, mayor of the 50 000 people who live in the City of Plainfield can’t help but think of the days of his youth in Barbados, the pleasures of kite flying, attending Good Friday or Easter Sunday services and enjoying the bank holiday.
However, he is focusing most of his attention to the services and other events organised by more than 100 churches in the city and that “means the City of Plainfield is filled with energy”.
Mapp, who is in an election campaign mode, seeking a second four-year term at City Hall, said the “administration under my leadership enjoys a close and supportive relationship with the faith-based community” which considers “Easter a very important time” as reflected in the special services, prayer meetings, dinners and other communal gatherings “that underscore the resurrection story”.
Across the bridges and tunnels that link New Jersey and New York City, the Easter spirit flourishes, despite the fact that Good Friday is a normal working day. Easter, though, is the time for celebrating and the Very Reverend Eddie Alleyne, a Rural Dean of the Episcopal Church in Brooklyn readily admits Barbados is on his mind.
“I truly love and appreciate what we have in the homeland of Barbados.”
“Good Friday and Easter (in America, Barbados and parts of Christendom) allow us an occasion to see every person who suffers and that every person who is lost and broken wears the cross of Jesus,” Alleyne, Rector of St Gabriel’s Church, asserted.
The Reverend Dr Laurel Scott, Pastor of the United Methodist Church of Port Washington on Long Island, praised West Indians for taking their religious practices from the Caribbean to their new homes.
Tony Best is the NATION’s North American Correspondent. Email: [email protected]