Easter Traditions — Kites and Swings

It is often the case that the Sunday after Easter is called Bright Sunday and is an occasion for humor – remembering the Risus Paschalis – that the Resurrection is God’s joke on the devil. And it may also be remembered that today is April 1 – April Fool’s Day – reminding us of the Apostle Paul’s suggestion that we become fools for Christ.

So a joke …

Kites …

Four kite strings stop in front of a shady looking bar. The first kite string says: “I’m going in for a … Coke.” He goes in and the bartender says: “Hey, we don’t serve kite strings in here.” So he walks out. The second and third kite strings go in with the same results… Get out, we don’t serve kite strings in here! The fourth kite string takes off his hat and places his hand on top his head rubbing his hair around and tangling it. He places his hat back onto his head and boldly goes into the bar. The bartender looks at him kind of questioningly, and says: “Hey, aren’t you a kite string!?!”

The kite string takes off his hat and bows, saying, “No, I’m a … frayed knot.”

Many places in the world embrace the kite as a symbol of Easter. Monte Kap is the Creole word for Kite…it literally means ‘able to be lifted up.’

Children in Haiti fly kites each Easter as symbols of hope, but they are not the bright and beautiful commercial ones that many American children fly in March. They are made from plastic grocery bags, sticks and string and a stone with a hole to weight it down.

In Greece and Cyrus children associate kite flying with Lent. In Grenada the flying is on Good Friday and there are often razor blades attached to the kite strings. Bermuda, Barbados, Trinidad, St. Kitts and other islands in the Caribbean have Easter kite flying

In Guyana, kites are flown as an activity participated in by all ethnic and religious groups – it draws people together. Kites are not flown at any other time of year. Kites start appearing in the sky in the weeks leading up to Easter and school children are taken to parks and taught to fly them. This culminates in an airborne celebration on Easter Monday. The tradition in Guyana kite was probably imported by Chinese plantation workers because in China where kite flying actually began 3000 years ago, it is a symbol of spring.  Now the flying kite is symbolic of the Risen Christ and in some sense being Monte Kap — lifted up!

Swing Into Spring, a Latvian Easter Tradition
 by Induis Gleske

The northerly country of Latvia, located on the Baltic Sea, experiences large changes in the position of the Sun during the year, and the spiritual customs are very much based on the passage of the Sun. The Spring Equinox traditionally was called “Big Day,” but pre-Christian equinox customs now have become associated with Easter.

One of the traditional rituals of this occasion is the hanging of swings, large and small, in towns and in the country. Swings can be as simple as a single board suspended by ropes from a tree branch, or more complex structures with solid frameworks to carry several people. The swings can be erected in a town square, or anywhere, for that matter. Ready made swing sets, sturdy structures of bolted together logs, are available for instant deployment in house yards or parking lots.

It is expected that swinging will bring good crops, and no doubt is an aid to courtship, as young men take young women for rides, show off their prowess at driving the swings higher and higher. And all ages get to ride, as children or older folks are taken as passengers on larger swings.

The swing, like other the passage of seasons or stages of our lives, is governed by laws of nature. Its period has to do with distance from the fulcrum to the center of gravity, and we cannot change that. We get on the swing, and someone gives a gentle shove to start us off. We slightly manipulate the center of gravity by shifting our weight, and make the swing go higher and higher, until we see over the onlookers or the treetops, and feel the excitement, the thrill, and even trepidation as we hang on to the ropes or the frame.

Eventually, we slow down, come to a stop. We relinquish our place to the next couple, and give them a gentle push to start off…..

For Christians, this time of life’s renewal is marked by the Resurrection of Jesus, and as the old customs of Latvia merged with the new, the Easter observation appropriately took on the name of “Big Day”.

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