Monday, 14 April 2014

Time of resurrection as the blossom blooms

It’s that time of year again. A glorious moment, far too short, but all the more wonderful for producing such a quick-burning blaze of colour.

Ornamental cherry on a Luton street
Yes, It’s cherry blossom time. The Japanese formally celebrate it, with millions pouring out into the parks to picnic under the cherry trees as the blossom falls on their heads which must be marvellous and, no doubt, into their rice balls and sake, which must be less so. 
Japanese cherries in bloom in Washington DC
Of course, the Japanese particularly admire their own cherry with its deep pink blossom. And they have every reason: it’s a beautiful tree. I

t does them credit that they’ve had the generosity to share it with the rest of us. They apparently made a formal gift of the tree to Washington DC, the US capital, but the rest of us get to enjoy it too.

Japanese cherry on a Luton street corner
Luton, where I live, also has a few spectacular examples out there, doing their bit to enliven the seediest of streets.
Cherry in my office car park
Even the car park at my office, hardly the most romantic or picturesque of locations, changes into a place of wonder and beauty at this time of year. Not with Japanese cherries but the ordinary variety is pretty spectacular too.

It’s a miracle repeated yearly, as the trees bloom all over the northern hemisphere. No surprise that it’s a season full of festivals and celebrations even outside Japan. Whether it’s the feast of Babylonian Ishtar, goddess of sex and fertility, or her Semitic counterpart Astarte, the feasts in earliest days of western civilisation were around now. As, today, are modern Jewish Pesach and Christian Easter.

There are many who argue that this coincidence of festivals proves how false they are. All that Christianity has done, they argue, is arrogate to itself a pre-existing feast. After all, the Christians have taken over the eggs and bunnies too, associated with the older festivals, but completely unconnected with the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.

All of which makes perfect sense to me. After all, we even call the feast Easter, a name clearly derived from the Anglo-Saxon Eostre, worthy descendant of Ishtar and our very own fertility goddess.

On the other hand, all I have to do is look around that blaze of blossom, yearly produced again despite its death the year before, to feel that it’s hard to imagine a better time of year to feast a Resurrection. What could possibly symbolise it better?

So believe in the Christian story or not, worshipping a fertility goddess of one cult or another, or following no faith at all – have a great Easter.

And enjoy the blossom.

More Luton Japanese cherries


Anonymous said...

Lovely examples giving Spring a material body.


David Beeson said...

My own reaction entirely - thanks, San