Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Merry Easter?

I swear it's getting worse every year.

I always start looking for it around Valentine's Day. And that's because I recall each year, as a child, listening to Milwaukee DJ "Larry the Legend" talking about it right around that time, when he let people call in and report the names and addresses of neighbors who hadn't yet taken down their Christmas decorations. And then Larry the Legend would turn around and call these people - live on the radio - to embarrass them, asking them why they hadn't yet taken them down?

Valentine's Day, today? That ain't nothing anymore; no one bats an eye.

Even yesterday, a day after Easter, I saw them all over the place as I drove across town: Christmas decorations hung on porches, plastic Santas in yards, and Christmas wreaths brown and dead still hanging on the front door. And it's not just in my town - it's all over the metro Milwaukee area, which I drive in and around and through multiple times a day, at least five or more days a week.

What is wrong with people? This past week I thought, at least, people would realize that Easter was in a few days, and so then they'd finally go outside and take down the Christmas stuff.

Nope.

I have this figured out, though. Tell me if you agree or not.

While I will allow some leeway for the fact that Wisconsin is cold and snowy and miserable for many months following Christmas, and people just don't want to go out and freeze their butts off taking down Christmas decorations in a foot of snow, I believe this is all about the secular nature of our culture which values Christmas, but ignores Easter. (By the way, we still have snow here, so I hope the Easter Bunny was wearing a coat!)

Seriously, though. Everyone gets these warm fuzzies about Christmas, especially since it's all about the gift-giving, right? People of all religions and faiths celebrate Christmas - oops, I mean the Holidays - because Christmas is about anything you want it to be, as long as it's about family and friends and "the spirit of the season," which is giving - oops - I mean GETTING.

But there's not much to be got for Easter. Which is why I believe there are many, many more people than we imagine who sit around doing jack sh*t nothing on Easter Sunday. And that's because it's pretty hard to ignore that Easter is absolutely, positively about Christ and Christianity. It's inherent in the whole thing and the hypocrisy of celebrating this holiday without having a vested interest in Christianity is obvious. Whereas the hypocrisy of ignoring the birth of Christ at Christmas is something our culture has long ago come to terms with.


On Easter Sunday, as we were leaving to go to mass, I noticed that the parking lot at our local grocery store was PACKED. Note that you wouldn't see that on Christmas Day, because everything on the planet is shut down. Thus, I imagine that if we had driven past a Wal-Mart on Sunday, we would have seem the same: a parking lot full of cars, given that a huge percentage of people in our culture see Easter Sunday as no different than any other day. Well, save for maybe some kind relative who invites you over for a nice dinner that you show up for and then leave, wondering what you should do for the rest of the day?

Hey, I know! Let's have a beer! Watch a basketball game! Here in Wisconsin, Easter Sunday is big business in the bars and clubs. Because it's such a sacred day and all.

Am I wrong about this?

Oh sure, there are secular people who make Easter a day about getting the kids out for an Easter egg hunt, and hiding an Easter basket, and maybe a nice Easter brunch. Akin to the secular Christmas holiday folks, who are nominally Christian for five minutes twice a year. But without the prospect of gifts to go around for everyone (that means the adults, too) I believe many people today just forgo Easter all together, since there's nothing in it for them.

And this is why I think there are so, so many Christmas decorations still hanging around out there. People just don't care about Easter, it has no meaning for them, so there's no reason to take them down. They'll wait until they have to mow the lawn for the first time or when Mom complains that she'd like them taken down and put away as a Mother's Day gift.

In my lifetime, as is already the case, I expect more and more to see Easter marginalized and de-emphasized, as our culture increasingly finds Christianity irrelevant or something to be hostile towards. Easter will instead continue to evolve into a spring festival of renewal (as was explicitly stated as the meaning of Easter on Alan's copy of "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!"), which means people can take it or leave it. At best, it will be a Sunday off for some and a plate of ham over at Aunt Mary's house.

So sad.

14 comments:

  1. some of the lights just came down this weekend, more because we tossed them up too high in the tree and couldn't pull them down...but that's the thing, the world will always want us to pretend Easter isn't, Easter didn't, Easter won't.

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  2. I was playing Words With Friends with a friend and I texted "Happy Easter" and she replied, "He is risen, indeed", and I think she was being kind of flip with me. I would always tell my CCD students that there were more first hand eye witnesses (primary sources)to the Resurrection than to Ceasar's Gallic wars. Hopefully that would make them think.

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  3. Our priest spoke at Mass about why Easter has never been as big as Christmas for society at large -- he thinks the world has no trouble celebrating the birth of a child, but a man rising from the dead? If people believed that, they'd have to become the man's followers.

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  4. Jabberwocky4/2/13, 8:57 PM

    Two of our kids finally took down the Christmas tree the day before Easter. Yeah, it was a fire hazard.

    We are notorious about leaving our tree up. Several of our children were very upset when it came down because their high school friends just thought it was the coolest thing we still had it up.

    The tree cost $50. I'd say we got at least 5 times that in enjoyment out of it. LOL

    What can I say? Christmas gives me warm fuzzies. Roaring fires in the fireplace, twinkling lights in the snow, having friends over for wine-sipping by the fireside, baby Jesus in the manger, lovely story of Bethlehem, the three exotic kings..........what's not to love?

    Fasting and focusing on our sins for six weeks, failing miserably at it all, and then throwing a big winter coat on over the Easter dress and tiptoeing through snowbanks to go to an interminably long Easter service, kids hyped up on candy, taxes due soon, no lovely holiday season cocktail parties with cheery family and friends, nasty ugly outside with black filthy snow and melting snow revealing the leaves you never raked up last fall..........not so warm and fuzzy.

    Sure, I know it means more from a religious/faith perspective. But Easter just does not feel nearly as happy to me as Christmas does, and that's probably the case with most people. And the vast majority of people are going to go with what makes them feel good, human nature being what it is.

    Meanwhile, the ugly pink Easter grass the kids put up on the mantel to replace the lovely lighted evergreen garland we had there just doesn't cut it. Yuck!

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    1. I absolve you, Jabberwocky. Ha! : )

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    2. Jabberwocky4/4/13, 9:02 PM

      Whew--glad to hear it. Because I can guarantee you our tree will still be up until at least Valentine's Day next year.

      Easter was late even by our standards. LOL

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  5. I grew up thinking Easter meant hunting for chocolate eggs & jelly beans. And having a special brunch usually...champagne & orange juice, for example. If we went to church, I don't remember it, although I do recall my mother sewing Easter dresses for us some years.

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  6. I can see Easter disappearing in the future too. Honestly, I would rather people who don't believe in the Resurrection stop celebrating it anyway, so it wouldn't bother me if the secular celebration disappeared.

    Catlady

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    1. Oh we also tried to go to Mass at our normal time, 12 noon, and we couldn't get in the parking lot because the fire department had blocked it off due to overcrowding. But that is probably a separate blog topic!

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  7. I am no fan of secular Christmas and my house is 'de-Christmastized' by Dec. 27. As the years go by, and especially with my involvement with RCIA as catechist, I love Easter more and more. However, shifting gears overnight from fasting, penance, sad hymns and death to feasting, joy, a chuch full of flowers, multiple baptisms, etc. is difficult. It would be nice if there was a week long adjustment but that would sort of defeat the purpose of the shocking aspect of the Resurrection. As Amethyst so succintly put it, "...but a man rising from the dead? If people believed that, they'd have to become the man's followers."
    Angela M.

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    1. In the Extraordinary form, there is a transition period called septuagesima

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    2. Umm, the Septuagesima season is a warm-up for Lent, not a transition between Good Friday and Easter, Anonymous.

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    3. I misread her comment. Thank you for the correction. It must be because this year I need a transition into lent from Christmas tidings and Epiphany. Thank you again for the correction.

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  8. I don't recall Easter being much of a holiday for decorating even when I was a kid. From what I understand, the secular side of it comes from pre-Christian fertility festivals and I'm not sure that non-agrarian society that treats the fertility of humans and domestic animals as a disease to be controlled has any reason to celebrate fertility.

    The last time I saw Christmas decorations in my town was late January, so I don't think people are trying to extend Christmas around here. I do think it's easier to celebrate the birthday of a great Teacher or whatever a post-Christian might think of Jesus than it is to celebrate His death. Everybody celebrates birthdays, but remembering that this Teacher died for His teaching? That's uncomfortable. And, if He rose, He wasn't just a great Teacher. That's even more uncomfortable.

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