Friday, 29 March 2013

Happy Easter. After all, this ought to be the big day in the Calendar...

So here we are at Easter again. 

It always amuses me to see the attitude of our Western allegedly Christian societies to this, in principle the greatest festival of the year. Or at least, as a Westerner but no Christian – so half an outsider – I’m amused by the contrast between Easter and Christmas.

Easter always arrives in a quiet sort of way, without flamboyance, without fanfares. Christmas – well, like most people, I have the impression that the fanfares start earlier every year. My impression is the first intimations to appear in the shops in about late August.

‘In the shops’. Those are the key words, and it’s what makes Christmas so huge a deal: it’s the unrivalled celebration of commercialism in our thoroughly commercialised societies. That’s why the preparations can’t start early enough. If you’re trying to persuade people to part with their cash at unprecedented levels for things they don’t really want, and only to avoid your shop going straight down the tubes, then you need to get the advertising going fast.

Easter? What the heck. All you’re promoting really is some chocolate eggs, and I notice that the Cadbury variety, stuffed with some unpleasant white substance referred to as cream and masquerading as egg white, and a blob of even more toxic yellow gunk, are in the shops from January these days.

If anyone actually cared for the Christian message underlining all this stuff, they’d quickly realised that the key event, the one that spelled redemption, from the point of view of believers, was the one we celebrate this weekend: the crucifixion of the Messiah followed by his triumphal resurrection.

Dalí's view of the resurrection
I can’t claim to be a biblical scholar, so I may well have missed something here, but I don’t think either of these events involved many eggs, lambs or bunnies, whether of flesh and blood or chocolate, or even sugar.

In contrast to the execution and return of the Lord, his birth is merely a special instance of a pretty routine occurrence. So by their sheer scale of grandeur, you’d have to say that Christians have got the events completely back to front. Which probably reflects their view of the underlying values too: poverty, forgiveness, charity to all, explaining why so many ‘Christians’ find it easy to rally to politicians who champion wealth, intolerance and contempt.

If Christians meant it, they’d be out there making sure we all realised that Easter’s much the more important feast. Not an easy task, but did anyone ever claim Christianity was easy?

Of course, for the rest of us, we can just enjoy a long weekend. Even if this year, in Britain at least, we do seem to be getting a bit of Christmas at Easter. With snow on the ground, March is proving a lot colder than December ever was. And a lot of those lambs, far from gambolling in green meadows, have been frozen under snowdrifts.

Still, the break is welcome anyway.

Happy Easter, everyone.

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