Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Musings

I associate Easter with my childhood and the one time of year that my father tried to assert his Christianity. I can recall attending an assortment of Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday church services with him; Palm Sunday was especially beautiful, with everyone holding their bright green fronds and Easter Sunday was always like a fashion show, with everyone in their spring finery, including now-anachronistic enormous bonnets. I remember the year that the priest (Episcopal) gave what I thought was a particularly annoying sermon, I forget about what, but he invited anyone who disagreed with him to stand up, which I tried to do, but my father held me down in my seat. That was the year I was ten and I’d been given a hot-pink spring coat with big, fabric-covered buttons (I loved that coat). I was in my 20s before I attended an Easter service again, by which time I’d learned to behave and keep my protests to myself.

As was always the case in my childhood home with holidays normally steeped in religious significance, we made Easter mostly about food and fun: chocolate bunnies and coloring Easter eggs and making a pretty Easter basket. My Yiddisha Mama always baked a nice glazed ham studded with cloves, draped with pineapple slices, dotted with Maraschino cherries. The first year I was taken to the Easter Parade on Manhattan’s famed Fifth Avenue, I felt totally ripped off: no marching bands, no flags and uniforms, no nothing, except dressed-up people, especially women with even more outrageous hats than the church ladies wore. Someone should have warned me.

When I was older, I better understood the concepts of redemption and resurrection so integral to Easter, and as a Spiritualist I don’t entirely pooh-pooh the idea that Christ may have genuinely risen from the dead, but the whole idea was (and is) too tied up with Christian miracles for my taste. I was even older when I learned about the pre-Christian history of Easter as a pagan spring fertility celebration (ergo the eggs) and something to do with a Greek goddess and her pet rabbit that laid eggs. I like this idea better.

This year, I am focusing on secular thoughts (both personal and political) of renewal/rebirth/a New Beginning. I’m looking forward to the warmth and blooms and happy possibilities of spring. Wishing you peace, joy and whatever renewal you may need at this lovely time of year. And to paraphrase the song White Christmas, may all your bunnies be white.

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