Getting Cross At Easter!
Why Easter isn’t Christmas, and vice versa
I have banged on about this topic before, but I think it’s a subject that warrants a little more discussion, so bear with me.
Just as an aside, that phrase ‘bear with me’ always makes me think of The Perishers in the Daily Mirror from years ago, where one of the characters had a bear called Gladly. It was called this because it had cross-eyes, from the hymn, ‘Gladly , my cross I’d bear’. Seemed an appropriate aside considering the topic.
I think there are a number of problems with Easter. Firstly, why do we have this rambling festivity? I don’t mean why do we have it at all, just why is it a moveable feast? No other celebration roams the calendar like this. Your birthday doesn’t shamble about the zodiac as it thinks fit. Christmas doesn’t leap out at you from behind a bush in August (although October is a distinct possibility, I’ll grant you). You never know where you are with Easter, it can turn up at any time and, as a consequence, the prevailing weather may not be ideal for taking a holiday, like this year where, if the weather forecast’s to be believed, exposure is considerably more likely than a sun-tan.
Then there’s the advertising. In a perfect world, advertisers would really love us to treat Easter as another Christmas. You can see it in the style of the TV advertising, all glistening and appetising foodstuffs on a laden family table. I may be wrong (perish the thought) but I think they’re on to a loser here. Easter just does not grab us in the same way.
For a start off, where’s the focal point? At Christmas, it’s pretty obvious that it’s Christmas Day. Sure, the other days play their part, but Christmas Day is the Big One and no mistake. But how about Easter? Is it Good Friday? Hardly seems a time for rejoicing and getting out the festive fayre does it? Easter Day then? Well, possibly, but I don’t think we’ll ever be comfortable about celebrating a particularly brutal murder. Yes, I know all about the Resurrection, but you have to have all the doom and gloom to get to there, and I’m not even sure that the Church is all that convinced anyway. Whereas with Christmas, you can’t go wrong, everyone loves to celebrate a birth and the story is the stuff of which childhood memories are built.
Christmas is also about rampant hedonism. From all sides you are encouraged to ‘laissez le bon temps rouler’. Just about anything is possible and forgiveable. Easter, on the other hand, is all about guilt and how could it not be? I’m sure it was a great blow-out in the Middle Ages but, to be fair, after 40 days of the deprivation of Lent, when Lent meant giving up everything remotely pleasurable, not just the odd cream cake, I should think the Plague would have been a barrel of laughs.
Then there’s Easter Cards. I had never even heard of these until I met my wife. It was just not something that our family did. Now you see them everywhere but, again, there’s this lack of certainty about the tone that should be adopted. There are, of course, the outright religious ones but also you have a fair smattering of cute animals (bunnies, chicks, ducks etc.) What we don’t appear to have, as yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time, is the humorous or downright obscene Easter Card. You may, of course, know differently and I’m sure you’ll tell me.
The timing of Easter always used to irritate me as a child. It just didn’t fit in with my strong sense of what should be a proper narrative flow. You’ve got your Nativity story in the Advent period, and that’s fine. Then three months or so later, we’ve got a fully grown man who is heading towards Jersualem and certain death. It’s like Lewis solving the murder just after the first commercial break.
In the meantime, Happy Easter (I think)