Today was Easter Sunday for Christians. It’s actually one of the few religious holidays for them that is based on the lunar calendar in addition to the solar calendar. It is movable because it is figured as the Sunday (Sabbath) after the first full moon (lunar calendar) on or after the Vernal Equinox (solar calendar). That means all holidays relating to Easter between the end of Epiphany and the end of the “season of Easter” (which include Ash Wednesday, Lent [46 days long starting on Ash Wednesday, but in the count of 40 for the time Jesus spent in seclusion in the desert they don’t count the Sundays – and the date changes based on when Easter is going to be], Palm Sunday, Holy Week [Monday through Friday of the week between Palm Sunday and Easter, with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday being particularly special, as Thursday is considered the day of the Last Supper, and the night in Gethsemane; and Friday considered the actual day of the Crucifixion], Easter, the Ascension of Jesus [40th day after Easter], and Pentecost [50th day after Easter]).
The Wiccan calendar celebrates this fertility holiday on the Vernal Equinox itself, which this year happened on March 20 at 4:30 am (last week Sunday, being Palm Sunday for some variants of Christianity). But since that computed date is located at Greenwich, you have to pay attention to your time zone in relation to that date/time (so, in my location, that actual moment was on March 19, at 11:30 pm CDT). The Equinox is based on the exact moment that the Sun crosses the equator, whereas the Solstices are the zenith of the Sun’s travel in the summer (for the Northern Hemisphere, opposite for the Southern Hemisphere) and the nadir in the winter (same situation as previous).
In our family (and many others), holidays like Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving and so on are times for the family to gather and spend time with each other. Sometimes the far flung members, like I used to be, can make it to the gathering and sometimes they can’t. Doesn’t mean that they aren’t in our thoughts, though.
What does that have to do with cooking as a sacred act? Well, while I try to be conscious of the sacrifice of life (whether animal or vegetation), and thankful for it any time I eat, I don’t always make a conscious effort to bless the food itself.
It’s not that I’m consecrating the food to my Gods. That would make it something the Christian family members cannot eat in good conscience. I only do that if I am cooking for those who worship as I do. This is more of an active focus on blessing the food, giving of my energy to the food so that it can be a blessing to those who eat it. It is NOT a prayer – again, that would make any food I had prayed over anathema to my Christian family members.
It is, in many ways, the same thing that older generations did almost without thinking. It is investing the food with the love, care and hope for happiness that you feel for your family.
To me, that makes it a sacred act. And the dinner I cooked (with help from one of my nephews and my sister) pictured above had in it all that love, care and hope for happiness (and health and abundance) for all of my family.