An Ortiz Easter
Easter Traditions from a Mexican-American Home
Easter with my family is nothing like the movies. Instead of your traditional Easter ham, we have carnitas. And there’s no gathering around a nicely set table with grandma’s fine china. I don’t think my grandmother even owned china… No, at our house, it’s paper plates and Norteños blasting, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s been a while since I last attended an Ortiz Easter. This year I made it home for our annual celebration which consists of my cousins, tios and tias gathering at the Ortiz compound (the childhood home my mother and her siblings were raised in). And even though my grandparents passed away some time ago, the traditions they created continue on.
Our Easter celebration starts with a sunrise mass. It’s a beautiful sermon tucked in the red rock formations of the Mojave desert. This is a tradition in my home town that goes back many generations.
After mass, we head to the family home and begin to prep for the festivities of the day. The menu is always the same, our famous Ortiz potato salad, rice, beans and an array of sweets and salads. The main course, however, is always, the carnitas, which many of us wait a year for.
The evening brings our annual Easter egg hunt. Each egg is labeled with a cash worth and there is always a golden egg–one for the kids and one for the adults.
And last, but not least, the cascarónes! This tradition is rooted in our Mexican Culture. Several months before Easter, we begin to save egg shells. A week before, we color the shells and fill them with confetti. Then, on the day of, no one is safe as we all take aim, crashing egg shells over each other’s heads, in great fun.
As an adult, these traditions bring me as much joy now, as they did then. I love to see my cousins children, running through the same yard we once ran through, searching for eggs and cracking cascarónes. My grandparent’s Ortiz, I’m sure, are looking down and smiling.
I hope you all had a wonderful day with your family, as well.