A Lithuanian and American Easter in Washington DC

Nicely decorated Lithuanian Easter eggs    Photo Ludo Segers

As Christianity spread, it also was intertwined with a number of local customs. The way Lithuanians celebrate this holy holiday, even when living abroad, differs in some ways that Americans celebrate this day. The common theme was the attendance on Sunday morning of religious services attended by Lithuanians everywhere in the USA. The US President and First Family also attended a church service in Alexandria, VA. However nowhere was that distinction more remarkable than at the White House and at the residence of Lithuanian Ambassador to the United States, Žygimantas Pavilionis.

On Easter Sunday, the Lithuanian Ambassador hosted an Easter dinner for a few friends and families. This dinner reflected probably a typical meal that one can expect to see and experience when visiting a Lithuanian family on that highlight of the Christian calendar. The Deputy Chief of Mission of the Lithuanian Embassy in Ottawa, Jonas Skardinskas and Monsignor Rolandas Makrickas attended the Easter dinner. Monsignor Makrickas of the Papal Nuntius in Washington blessed the food and the attendants. Colourful eggs decorated the table. Some of these were really works of arts that are treasured heirloom in many families.

However, in size of gathering and experience, nothing could be more different from the decorated eggs that were on display at the Egg Roll Contest in the White House. President Obama and the First Lady hosted the 137th edition of this annual event on the White House’s south lawn. More than 35,000 participants attended, most of them lucky to get on the grounds via a lottery. The Marine Band played some happy tunes such as the “Sesame Street theme,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and the Bugs Bunny theme whilst kids where competing in the egg roll races. The President accompanied by a giant Easter Bunny welcomed the large crowd to his home. He then proceeded with the First Lady to walk to the Egg Role Race, helping one of the very young participants.

The young boy was a bit surprised at the attention that he got from a large media presence. Doubtless, he will probably tell a story of some proportions in years to come. The President then went telling a story to kids gathered at the story telling stage and this was followed with Mr. Obama playing tennis with some attendees and professionals, impressing a few with his skills. In the afternoon, the First Lady read some stories from the perennial Dr. Seuss. She read from a ‘new book’ specially created for Michele Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ project.

On Tuesday morning, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will host an Easter Prayer service at the White House.

All of these activities looked light years away from the Iran Nuclear deal, the main theme that overshadows these days everything political in Washington. Doubtless, when all the chocolate Easter bunnies are history, the town will return to the political agenda that is at the heartbeat of the capital.

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