I wasn’t sure about spending an Easter without a sunrise service with my church family, dyed eggs, and of course, Easter candy. Instead of Cadbury eggs and easter egg hunts, I spent the weekend attending a donkey race and visiting my host family in a nearby(ish) village.
Easter, in Cape Verde, is actually…well, about Easter — no stuffed bunnies, no edible Easter grass. The only shopping, in preparation for Easter, is food for the Sunday afternoon meal. And, shopping means going to the market, buying local food from neighbors and friends. Excitement for the holiday stirs from fellowship, rather than a sugar overload and new toys. It is about conversation, reflection, and time spent together.
As we sat down at the table to eat, I have never been more thankful for the food in front of me. Maybe it’s because I saw this food grow. I saw my family, my neighbors, cultivate it daily, and wait for drops of rain. I saw them plant; I saw them weed; I saw them dutifully care for each crop. I saw them raise goats, chickens and pigs for holidays like this one. In Cape Verde, I see the preparation, the hard work that goes into each meal. A meal people are thankful for because they know food is not always in abundance. They know that being able to feed friends and family is something to be grateful for, and cherished.
As I sat around the table, with friends and Cape Verdean family, I was completely satisfied. I’ve been here ’round about 9 months now and I surprisingly feel at home. And then I realized why — here, you eat every meal together. Not once a week, not one meal a day — every meal you eat together. You make time for breakfast, lunch and dinner, no matter your obligations for the day. These meals, these hours spent together, create an intimacy that strives on simplicity.
Until Sunday, I never realized how much our holidays are commercialized. How much our things get in the way of our lives. We need more soul food — more chairs around the table, more loyalty to the local.