Posted by: The Amoeba | April 8, 2009

… For Tomorrow We Dye

Or, maybe, in your household, you wait to dye the Easter eggs until Saturday afternoon …

Ever since I started to question the supernatural origin of baskets containing chocolate bunnies, I have had a problem with Easter.

Not so much with the holiday. Hey, I’m not that dumb. This is free chocolate we’re talking about.

No, it’s the word “Easter” itself that gave me fits.

I mean, easter than what?

Was it supposed to refer to Jerusalem, which is more east than, say, Cairo, but isn’t as east as Tokyo? And if that’s the answer, what about somebody celebrating the holiday in New Delhi? Would that person celebrate “Wester”? Would somebody in Sydney celebrate “Northwester”?

As any one who grew up in New England, USA remembers, we periodically would be granted a holiday called a “Northeaster“. But that was usually “celebrated” with snow shovels, not chocolate bunnies. Though occasionally there would be mugs of hot chocolate waiting for us after we shoveled out the driveway. Assuming the storm hadn’t taken out the electricity.

And if a nor’easter happened during Easter, there wouldn’t be a lot of holiday spirit going around. More like weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. And maybe some weary spirits raiding the spirits locker at the end of the day. It didn’t seem like my investigations were on the right track.

Then I discovered that Easter wasn’t a direction, it was a religion. Specifically, a Germanic pagan religion. Now I’m even more confused. The biggest event on the Christian calendar, and the Christians can’t even come up with their own name for it? I suppose things worked out that way because the obvious first choice – Christmas – was already taken. Evidence that, though the early Christian evangelists may have been passionate believers, they were a few tests short of a passing grade in business acumen.

Easter is, of course, the celebration by Christians of how the judicially-murdered Jesus of Nazareth returned to life, after “three days” (actually, somewhat less than two, from around 3 PM IDT Friday to an unspecified hour on Saturday evening). To be sure, he presented himself a couple of times to disciples and promptly vanished, never to be seen again despite two thousand year’s worth of predictions of his imminent return.

But that doesn’t really matter. What does matter is the promise of new life that the “risen Jesus” represents. A promise also represented by fresh flowers and green leaves and Easter eggs.

An empty promise if you happen to have been one of the embryos in those eggs you just boiled up for the Easter baskets.

On the other hand … I suspect that the fine new clothes that, in the Western ecclesiastical traditions, are usually trotted out for Easter, were originally intended to disguise the fact that the devout of northern European churches were living skeletons, saved from death by starvation or nutrient-deficiency diseases by the appearance of those flowers, leaves, and eggs.

To such people, the resurrections of springtime must have been, in the most fundamental way, the beginning of a new year. And, indeed, in early European societies, the new year was deemed to start at the commencement of spring growth. A convention observed for millennia by many happy families.

Until some astronomers got together and decreed that the year should begin, not at the time of life’s rebirth, but at the time of its greatest apparent peril, when the length of day is at its shortest and the harshest of the winter weather still lies ahead. The shift of New Year’s Day from the spring equinox to the winter solstice must rank as one of the earliest instances of a human population choosing to follow the dictates of an “expert” rather than those of common sense.

Perhaps it’s time to shift New Year’s Day back to the spring equinox. And play practical jokes on unsuspecting “January fools“.

  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2009 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.

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Responses

  1. Every day is Easter around my house, what with the art form I’ve chosen to specialize in. 🙂

    Easter isn’t the only Christian holiday to borrow heavily from the Pagans. Many of the major Christian holidays do.

    There’s a lot of confusion about why Pagans are so big on Halloween. It’s seen as being a sick fascination with grim things. Instead, among Pagans anyway, it’s more about community. You mentioned the winter taking its toll on people and Easter was the celebration of life. But Halloween, or Samhain, was meant to recognize that it’s harvest time, this is the most food you’ll have all year, and not everyone at the celebration would be around by the time spring came.

  2. Wouldn’t that be 9AM IDT?

    I think of all things religious, the supernatural origin of candy baskets should be the most credible.

  3. IG, be well. As you probably know, early Christian leaders made it a policy to adopt pagan holidays and make them all about themselves Jesus. Reminds me of an old Doonesbury cartoon (vintage 1975, just after the fall of Saigon), where a Vietnamese peasant comes up to Phred and asks “Where’s the party?” “The Communist Party?” “Yeah, that.” Part of that adoption, of course, was the demonization of the deities that formerly were in charge. Something for Jesus to triumph over, as if the cross wasn’t enough. ‘Course, the early church didn’t hit on the cross as a selling point until would-be converts got tired of watching disciples trying to work the loaves and fishes trick and failing. Repeatedly.

    Doug, according to Mark, from whom Matthew and Luke stole (John did a better job of destroying the evidence), the cross with Jesus on it went up at 9 AM. Jesus expired more than six hours later, sometime between 3 PM and nightfall. We may count ourselves fortunate that Mel Gibson chose not to depict (or, was dissuaded from depicting) this in real time.

    Have an ear.

  4. Hey, don’t give him the ear from my chocolate bunny!

    Oh, and all that purple dye I just bought? It’s for my hair, not Easter eggs. I thought I’d go lavender for Spring. What do you think?

    • Hey. Share, you two. There’s a recession on, remember? [Searches the web for ‘hair dye remover’.]

  5. Quilly, I think lavender will suit you. But maybe for the holiday, you can add some pink spots or pale yellow zig-zags. 🙂

    IG, be well.
    Thank you, sir. I’m working on it.

  6. Easter is another day off from work 🙂 Now how’s that for being in tune with reality? hmmm

  7. Lisa — how about a fade out job, lavender, pink then yellow …. of course, my hair is currently only 4 inches long, so that could be a bit over the top.

  8. OC ~ In some Christian Circles Easter is a more Powerful Holiday than Christmas. Whatever the case the Secular World has made it another event to earn that Almighty Currency.

    Quilly ~ blue hair is for “Little Old Ladies”, and you are far from that.

    Thom ~ I have to work on both Good Friday and Easter Sunday, so much for having a Holiday.

  9. eggs for consumption
    were not fertilized

    …and
    happy birthday

  10. I read this post differently now. Happy birthday, pal.


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