***This post is part of my 40 Things I Love About Catholicism series. Click here to read more!***
I walk in the grocery store in mid-February, and what do I see? A cart full of half-off Valentines candy, hastily removed from the shelves to accommodate the pastel invasion. And it's not even Ash Wednesday yet.
On Monday, all the remaining bunnies and chicks and chocolate eggs will be sitting in that half-off cart. Easter OVER!
Or not. I understand that Easter products need to be available for purchase before Easter itself, just like Christmas products do. But the retail cycle has influenced our culture to the point that we forget: the feasts of Easter and Christmas mark the BEGINNING, not the end, of the celebration.
And celebrate we do. The Easter season lasts fifty days, until the feast of Pentecost. The church will be covered in gorgeous flowers, the priest will wear white radiant vestments, and our hymns will proclaim glorious alleluia after alleluia.
The first week is particularly special. Easter Sunday isn't the only day we call "Easter" -- it's followed by Easter Monday, Easter Tuesday, and so on, throughout the whole "octave." I've learned a lot about the Eastern Orthodox over the years from my Greek college roommate, and one tradition of theirs that I love is calling the week after Easter "Bright Week." Could any time be brighter?
We're not quite there yet. But the time for celebration draws near, and we wait with hope.