Guest Writer Dan Hanson: Ethnic Events in Cleveland

By Dan Hanson,

“Ethnic heritage is often connected to religions and faith. For Christians, this is Holy Week culminating in Easter on Sunday.  For Jews, Passover begins at sunset tomorrow night and ends next Thursday (April 16).

It’s different this year but hopefully Ukrainian families are still making Pysanka.  That goes for you too Albanians, Armenians, Belarusians, Bulgarians, Croats, Czechs, Estonians, Georgians, Germans, Hungarians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Macedonians, Poles, Romanians, Russians, Serbs, Slovaks, Slovenes and others.

Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians be sure to continue the tradition of spanking or whipping with a special handmade whip called a pomlázka (in Czech) or korbá (in Slovak) on Easter Monday.

Poles, make sure you soak your partner with water on Dyngus Day (Monday).

We hope the Italians will still make the traditional Easter cake called the Colomba Pasquale.

If you are Swedish or Finnish we hope the small kids will still dress as Easter witches. Spiced schnapps on the Swedish Easter table still sounds good.

I know the Irish will pause to remember the men and women who died in the Easter Rising which began on Easter Monday 1916.

Mexicans will still make flour tortillas, Pescado Zarandeado and braided Easter bread.

I am not sure if local Hispanic churches will hold the traditional processionals on Good Friday, sometimes they include reenactments of the Crucifixion. This is always a highlight of Semana Santa.

For many African-Americans, Easter Sunday’s church service is always the focal point of the day. The gathering in new clothes to represent a new life for Christ on Resurrection Day. Without being able to attend Church, Fr. Dave R. Ireland, S.T.D., Pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish suggests that you dress up for Easter even though you are staying home.  That will make it seem more special as the special day warrants.

Those are just a few ways people who value their ethnic heritage will be celebrating.  We hope you share your traditions (and photos!) with us.

We asked for some advice in celebrating these holy times while isolated because of the virus.

Rabbi Pinchas Landis is the Education Director for Partners In Torah.  He said, “At the beginning of the Passover Seder, we make a proclamation, opening our homes wide to those who need a place for the holiday. Then, we ask the four questions stating ‘How different this night is from all other nights!’ This year, we will say ‘How different this Passover is from all other Passovers’ as we are unable to truly follow through on the proclamation we say inviting all to join us.

But, there is one Seder in history that this year’s Seder will mimic. During the first Seder ever, when the Jews were still in Egypt, the Seder took place during the plague of the first born. The Jews were commanded not to leave their houses during the plague (sound familiar). We should all privilege to see not only a repeat of this part, but a repeat of what came next which was ultimate redemption! May we see it speedily in our days!”

Keep those traditions alive and hang in there, Cleveland.”