Easter Customs

Original Airdates: April 19, 20, 22 (2011)

This is Living Stories, featuring voices from the collections of the Baylor University Institute for Oral History. I'm Kim Patterson.

Over the years, Central Texans have celebrated a variety of Easter customs.

Dr. Delta Hafford of De Leon managed the clothing program at the Methodist Children's Home in the 1950s and later served as school coordinator. She describes Easter at the Methodist Home in a 1977 interview:

"Easter Sunday was always such an exciting time because this was the time when every little girl had a new dress and a new pair of shoes, and they were so proud to wear them on Easter Sunday. This was probably the only day of the year that everybody had a brand-new dress on the very same day. Otherwise, the clothing was renewed, you know, at specific—at—on a staggered basis over the year. But on Easter Sunday, every little girl had a brand-new dress and a brand-new pair of shoes. And that was an exciting time. And it was really a time of pride, I think, for the children. This was also coincided with homecoming day. Homecoming, at the Methodist Home, has historically been on Easter Sunday. It's a time when everyone goes to church, and they like to look nice for the homecomers, you see, and for all the guests that were on campus. So it was doubly important for all the children to have something new to wear on Easter Sunday."

Dr. Adolph Basse of Fredericksburg explains an Easter tradition he took part in in the 1930s and 40s:

"Every Easter they'd build huge fires, and the idea was that the Easter Bunny was cooking eggs up there. And so that was a big, big thing. All the kids in all these little hills around here, everybody got a bunch together if we had—well, first we'd build them out of wood and later on out of old tires. And then they had a pageant with it, you know. And then they'd talk about these fires, and then they'd have the Indians and the whole works there. The legend goes it all got started because the Indians used to build fires on these hills, and the mothers would tell the kids, ‘That's—the Easter Bunny's up there; he's cooking eggs.' But it was actually the Indian fires."

Carol Durón grew up in Waco in the Calle Dos neighborhood. She shares memories of Easter week from the 1940s and 50s:

"You prepared yourselves. Since we went to a Catholic school, we went Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and we didn't go Thursday, Friday. Thursday, my aunt would start with the cooking. We had capirotada. Oh, I remember my daddy—the trips to Safeway on Eighth and Washington. I mean, we—oh, we always ate so good. My aunt, I'd be watching her and helping her and, ‘Peel this. You're going to make the agua fresca.' And, mind you, all of this was done before going to church at two o'clock in the afternoon. Church was a walking distance, not far from us. And, of course, come back home, and we always enjoyed the food."

Clothing, bunnies, eggs, special recipes, church services—they share the thread that runs through all Easter traditions: spring as a time of natural and spiritual renewal.

Living Stories is heard every Tuesday on 103 point 3 FM, Waco's NPR. For program transcripts or more information about the Institute for Oral History, visit us at baylor.edu/livingstories.

Search our collection of full transcripts available online.