An Ortega Family Easter
Josie and Israel Ortega's children

Latino family holiday traditions…Easter in Casa Ortega


Easter in Casa Ortega is coming into its own as the Spring counterpart to Christmas: a lot of waiting and preparing, followed by a rush of celebration (and sugar!).

As with all family traditions, we’re merging practices and memories from our families of origin, and trying new ideas on for size.



The past two years, we’ve hosted an Easter Fiesta in the form of a casual taco dinner Sunday afternoon and into the evening. Friends are primed for the Mexican menu after a morning of chocolate eggs, heavy brunch, lamb, or all of the above. 

If we’re fortunate, Abuela is visiting and prepares her delicious tacos; in her absence we rely on my family’s recipe for beef taco meat. I open the family cook book that my great aunt prepared for us as a [brilliant] wedding gift.

My dad’s from Texas—so it’s legitimate Mexican food in some circles—and he scrawled the instructions on the back of an envelope for Aunt Reba, 11 years before I was born. 

(We do try to obtain Abuela’s recipes for the cookbook, but evidently, she cannot be nailed down; her ingredients cannot be measured.)

Our kids are excited and expectant. The joy of Easter, and the treats of Easter, will taste even better to them after a simple Lenten season of few desserts. We attempted connecting this “fast” to the needs of others, and they responded more cheerfully than expected!

On our recent city-wide day of giving, two happy and proud little girls brought the cash they saved from skipping dessert, and donated $15 to Casa Chirilagua, a local non-profit working in a Central American immigrant neighborhood.

We’ve been stockpiling paper flowers made from coffee filters.

We made rice krispy eggs.

Pastel bunnies and chicks will merge with bright ribbons and flowers and Mexican textiles. Come Sunday, our door will look like a San Antonio fiesta!

And the kids will crack cascarones, full of confetti, on Papa’s head.

The Ortega Family

Seems like a lot of work—food to be gobbled up quickly, eggs to be cracked, confetti to be swept away. I’m reminded of the Good Friday procession I experienced in Cholula, Mexico several years ago. Painstakingly crafted, gorgeous murals made of colored wood chips lined the streets—only to be trampled an hour later by the procession. 

Was it worth it, for the people to express their love in this way? For me, it’s a resolute YES. (Sí!) It was one of the most moving and beautiful things I’ve ever seen. 

Here’s to many flowers, Alleluias, tacos, and gratuitous expressions of love as we celebrate new life this spring. 

Related articles:

Cascarònes–A Fun Latin Tradition for Easter!

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