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Semitics and semantics, or My Jewish mother tries (and fails) to understand Easter dinner

April 8, 2012

Conversation with my Jewish mother, as she was on her way to an Easter “dinner”:

Mom: It was really nice of Robin to invite me to her family’s Easter dinner, but there’s something I don’t understand.

Me: What?

Mom: Well, she keeps calling it Easter “dinner.” But it’s at 1 o’clock.

Me: So … ?

Mom: Who eats dinner at 1?

Me: Maybe they just call it “dinner.” Like, in name only.

Mom: They should call it what it is — Sunday brunch. Lunch, maybe.

Me: I think you may be overthinking this.

Mom: And who wants to eat such a big meal so early in the day? Feh.

Me: They do, apparently.

Mom: I’m just saying, if I’m having people over for a holiday, I put out some noshes. We have a bissel of this, a bissel of that, and then we all sit down to DINNER. At nighttime.

Me: Well, every family does it differently.

Mom: I just don’t understand Gentiles. It was the same at Christmas — dinner in the afternoon! Oy vey.

Me: There’s no need to get all verklempt about it.

Mom: I just had a thought. Maybe it’s because our holidays start at sundown, and theirs don’t?

Me: That must be it. So, are you bringing anything to the Easter … meal?

Mom: Raspberry macaroons and dark chocolate-covered matzo.

37 Comments leave one →
  1. Chinese Cowboy permalink
    April 8, 2012 8:20 PM

    Tell her she’s beginning to sound like an alter cocker.

  2. Marian permalink
    April 8, 2012 8:32 PM

    oh, i could go for some dark chocolate-covered matzo.

  3. springfieldfem permalink
    April 8, 2012 9:05 PM

    Hahaha! I officially love your mother.

  4. April 8, 2012 9:06 PM

    dark chocolate makes everything better.

    did she really say “Oy vey”? Because that is awesome!

  5. DMama permalink
    April 8, 2012 9:26 PM

    Thanks for the Yiddish lesson!

  6. April 8, 2012 9:36 PM

    I could go into the history of midday “dinner” in the Christian European agricultural/church on Sunday historical model, but only if someone will hush me up with an “oy vey.”

    Chag Sameach, Alleluia, and blessed Ostera, to all, and pass the raspberry macaroons!

  7. April 8, 2012 10:19 PM

    this conversation made me giggle. i STILL don’t understand why we have to have holiday dinners in the middle of the damn day. i like to eat my dinner at 5ish like a normal person rather it’s zombie jesus day or just any other sunday. my family always has dinner anywhere between 1 and 3 and it’s ALWAYS bothered me.

  8. April 8, 2012 10:31 PM

    You and your mom should join my family for Thanksgiving. We typically plan to have “Thanksgiving Dinner” early in the afternoon but then gradually nudge the start time farther and farther forward until we wind up eating dinner at, well, dinnertime.

  9. April 8, 2012 11:13 PM

    she’s bringing macaroons and chocolate-covered matzah to easter dinner? that’s officially hilarious.

  10. April 8, 2012 11:29 PM

    I – think I love your Mom (had to say)


    • April 9, 2012 4:09 AM

      Yeah … I think I love her, too.

      • April 9, 2012 4:16 AM

        She ought to visit us in australia when you do. with chocolate matzo and raspberry macaroons of course.

  11. Cle permalink
    April 9, 2012 6:41 AM

    I have a Jewish mum and a born again Roman Catholic dad.
    I ate pork curry for dinner on Good Friday…..

  12. April 9, 2012 7:49 AM

    I think it’s ’cause the shiksas want to be able to moan and complain that they were up at the crack of dawn to start cooking. Jews already have the built-in guilt, so your mama doesn’t need to add any!

  13. April 9, 2012 8:55 AM

    I hope you saved me a macaroon.

    I noticed that you used 2 Os. When I bought some of those yummies the other day, the place used 1 O. I’m soooo confused….

  14. April 9, 2012 8:58 AM


  15. April 9, 2012 9:57 AM

    Can I come to your Mum’s house for dinner? Whenever that might be…

  16. April 9, 2012 10:32 AM

    you know, us jews ought to start doing the 1 o’clock dinner thing bc it would give us an excuse to eat TWO DINNERS. and then complain that we missed lunch.

  17. April 9, 2012 12:39 PM

    In my family we eat dinner early on holidays so we can have dessert with that meal, then dessert and liquor at normal meal time, followed by an evening of noshing on chocolate. And that, my dear, is a beautiful tradition that should never be touched.

  18. April 9, 2012 7:16 PM

    We’ve nominated you for the Sunshine Award because of your smile worthy blolg! Check out our site to see the guidelines for accepting. Congratulations and thanks for the laughs.

    Dr Em and Princess WeeWee

  19. April 9, 2012 10:46 PM

    I think it’s totally awesome you have a Mom that says things like “oy vey” and “feh”. I went to Passover Seder dinner at a friend’s house a few years back and was totally confused. I drank all four glasses of wine and got hammered which I am pretty sure is a faux pas. I then failed miserably at reading my portion of the Haggadah which caused my friend’s Mom much consternation. I think overall Easter is a lot easier, but it definitely involves eating early.

  20. April 10, 2012 3:43 PM

    Now I’m sad I didn’t have any Easter plans, because I could have invited both of you.

  21. April 11, 2012 2:17 AM

    I love that you used the word “verklempt”. I also love that I’m not the only one who has contemplated the whole “dinner in the afternoon” issue.

    Finally, while I’ve never actually tried a matzo before, I love knowing that you can cover it in dark-chocolate.

  22. Simone Says permalink
    April 11, 2012 1:47 PM

    i never understood easter brunch, the damn parade or those stupid bonnets.

  23. April 11, 2012 2:55 PM

    I am Catholic and I don’t get the whole calling it dinner when we eat at 1 or 2 either. And every holiday, I think about it and wonder…

  24. iampisspot permalink
    April 12, 2012 8:16 AM

    So, in the North of England, dinner is eaten in the middle of the day, whereas in the South of England, lunch is eaten in the middle of the day. I’m from the North but live in the South, and therefore eff knows what I’m supposed to say.

    This is also the most boring comment ever. Apologies.

  25. April 12, 2012 10:28 AM

    I always thought it was a southern thing, dinner at noon and supper in the evening. Farm families here in the midwest think I’m weird for saying lunch and dinner, respectively. Strange.

  26. April 12, 2012 11:21 AM

    I’m not Jewish but I agree with your mom: dinner at 1pm? Yea, I’ve never understood that! Maybe it’s so Gentiles can eat all the chocolate bunnies left by Jesus as “dinner” but not call it dinner so then it’s guilt free?

  27. April 12, 2012 12:27 PM

    At least she wasn’t invited for breakfast at 3 a.m.

  28. April 13, 2012 1:53 PM

    BAHAHAHAAAAA!!!! Can I borrow your mother? I absolutely ADORE her! Also, not only am I a Gentile, I also come from a farming family. We had breakfast, dinner (at noon: a BIG meal that included 20 people and lots of potatoes), lunch (usually light; a sandwich, at around 4pm before evening milking), then supper around 8pm (which was more like a warm lunch, like soup and bread and veggies). This totally explains why I have no idea what to call any meal, and also why I feel like eating nonstop throughout any given day.

  29. April 13, 2012 3:43 PM

    I’m with your Mom…I do not get gentiles and I’m one of them.

  30. April 13, 2012 8:19 PM

    Look, we rarely have family dinner/lunch/brunch anything, so can some of you invite me to your religious/non religious/traditional American/non traditional eating celebrations? I don’t mind what you call it or when it is, especially if there are macaroons involved.

  31. April 15, 2012 2:11 AM

    Am I a goy? I have no idea. I need a Jew lesson. And a gentile lesson. The only thing I know about Christians is that I’m going to hell.

  32. Claire permalink
    April 18, 2012 9:40 PM

    I know in my family, we eat unusually early on the holidays because there’s been continuous light snacking and drinking… maybe more drinking than snacking, hence dinner/ lunch at like 1 pm.

  33. April 24, 2012 6:40 PM

    Dark chocolate matzo! Ah nom nom nom…. my lab-friend makes this for us when there are holidays. I want there to be more holidays. And I don’t much care what time of day.

  34. May 7, 2012 2:01 PM

    This sounds like me from when I was a kid! My grandparents are farmers in Amish country, and I’ve never heard either of them use the word “lunch”. To them, the meals are breakfast, dinner, then supper. To my grandma, lunch is a frou-frou snack meal that city folks eat.

  35. May 13, 2012 8:23 PM

    Your (awesome) mom seriously has a point…I always hate eating during holidays because it feels so WRONG eating that much so early in the day. Then you just feel like sleeping the rest of the day! If the meals/dinners were way later in the day, people could actually go to bed afterwards and not feel like total lazy bums.

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