Béisbol on Good Friday?

Yes, my parents used to pronounce “béisbol” like the legendary Chico Escuela.

It’s “Good Friday” so my late Cuban mother would be happy if I abstained from arguing about politics today and share some memories of Easter 1965, or, our first one here in the U.S.

It was indeed a welcome sight to see the first signs of spring after heavy snowstorms in February and January.  Yes, that first winter away from the tropics was hard, especially for my father who walked two blocks to catch the bus every morning.

It was also a time for a few cultural adjustments for this Cuban kid, embracing his new homeland. We came from a very traditional Spanish Easter culture. We called it “Semana Santa” or Holy Week to start with.Before Castro outlawed religious celebrations and shut down the press, Cubans generally celebrated the very Catholic Easter. 

It was a very Spanish country, as most Cubans of my generation have grandparents who moved to the island from Spain from the 1850s to the first half of the 20th century. These Spanish immigrants brought Catholicism and very traditional Christmas and Easter customs. Many of the small merchants were also Spanish immigrants and you could see their traditions in the storefront decorations.   

It started on Palm Sunday. It was followed by Lunes Santo, (Holy Monday), Martes Santo (Holy Tuesday), and Miercoles Santo (Holy Wednesday).  Then it got seriously holy with Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday) leading to Viernes Santo (Holy Friday).   

As I recall, Holy Friday was a day of total meditation and reflection. There was no music on the radio, the TV was practically unplugged and all of the merchants closed. Only hospitals were open but no one wanted to end up there that day.

The streets were quiet and we did go out to see the religious marches and the recreation of Christ carrying the cross. It continued on Sabado Santo (Holy Saturday). On Sunday, every changed and we called it “El Dia de Resurreccion,” or literally, the day of resurrection.  The church bells rang. The wardrobe changed and it was a party atmosphere.

Our first encounter with Easter in the U.S. was indeed a cultural shock. My parents did not understand the bit about going to the beach for Easter.    

My favorite recollection of our first Easter was hearing my mother’s reaction to a major league game on TV. She looked at me and said: “They play baseball on Good Friday?”

Have a wonderful Easter, however you celebrate the holiday. To be honest, Easter brings me a lot of memories of my parents and grandparents.

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