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12 April 2009 @ 08:06 am
Wait, it's a holiday?  
Easter is a holiday that almost escapes my notice. I observe the Equinox, of course, and I've been quietly raising a glass to Yuri Gagarin every evening, but when I drifted away from being even nominally Christian (around age 12-13, honestly), Easter was just one of those things that went with it.

Christmas, now... Christmas has been embraced so thoroughly by the secular culture and, more significantly, the consumer culture that it's acknowledged and sometimes observed by people of entirely different religious faiths.

Easter, in contrast, has always seemed thoroughly Christian to me. Not that I think that's a bad thing: unlike many of my peers, I don't have the knee-jerk reaction that Organized Religion Is The Enemy Of All That Is Just And Good. Believe me, if there's one thing about the Christian faith that resonates with me, it's the themes of Sacrifice and Redemption, of Rebirth and Renewal.

I even, these days, practice Lent, in an entirely secular manner: there are things that I want to cut down on, and it's easier to give up something when there's communal/social reinforcement -- even if you aren't in any direct contact with the actively-practicing community.

Easter is such a thing of nails and crosses, though. It's so specifically religious that its secular/commercial aspect of hard-boiled eggs and cheap bunny fursuits never really seemed to have the same cultural import as the Jolly Fat Man and his Bag Full of Presents. It didn't even occur to me that the comic store might not be open on Easter Sunday until my boss asked me, apologetically, if I would mind working on a day that I normally work anyway.

Even my expectations for the day reflect this quandary: The bosses expect it to be slow, since most of the mall will be closed, because it's Easter. I expect it to be swamped, because we're gonna be the only open store in a mall with a major cinema complex on a day when Families Go Do Stuff.

I just don't think of Easter as a "real" holiday anymore -- that is, one celebrated for reasons besides its religious signficance. For the last couple of days, I've been pondering this cultural disconnect -- my complete lack of recognition of Easter's apparent importance as a secular phenomenon -- and I think I've finally hit upon the core of the issue.

I'm allergic to chocolate.

For over three decades now, my Springs have been bereft of the joys of biting off bunny heads. When you can't eat chocolate, Easter is just a bunch of pastel packaging in the grocery store that you walk right past.

And that's it.

So, let me ask those of you who aren't practicing Christians -- what does Easter mean to you? What parts of the holiday do you still recognize and acknowledge?

I feel: curiouscurious
Pakapaka on April 12th, 2009 04:22 pm (UTC)
I've never actually been a practicing Christian. Easter's always had a more religious context for me - it's someone else's holiday, and yet the entire world closes down for it or does x and y approved activity. Alienating eh? When you add in the implications of the whole passion play and the call to genocide from the book of Matthew, it's definitely a holiday I resent like hell.

I agree that it doesn't have the same secular impact as Christmas simply because a holiday where all they can really sell is chocolate, two months after another chocolate holiday, is not going to be as big a deal as a four month long orgasm of mass consumerism.

So Easter means to me now pretty much what it's always meant; a day when I feel like I don't fit in, when most places are closed and the places which are open are packed full of people.
one in a billionsiege on April 13th, 2009 01:16 am (UTC)
I work in a fast-food restaurant. People go eat Real Food on Easter (the traditional family dinner). The place is normally packed on Sundays, but today it was particularly empty.
Darkwulf: Duo Radon 6jdarkwulf on April 12th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
For me, today doesn't mean all that much, either.

Tomorrow, however, is "Discount Chocolate Day, Part Two".
Tombfyretombfyre on April 12th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
I pretty much have a strong dislike for the holiday, for various reasons. The most common reason being its yet another time of the month where all the shops are closed, and I can't go out and do anything over the weekend. I'm not a religious person at all, in any shape of the term. Heck, I think all religions are silly antiquated things that people need to get out of their system before humanity can see some real progress. :p But I too don't look at them as "The enemy of all things good in the world" or some-such, just one of those old traditions people need to grow up and away from. People don't need their various flavors of invisible sky wizard to tuck them in at night. ^^

Like most holidays, I just really don't see the point to them. About all I recognize is Solstice and Equinox, plus New Years. And even for them, its just going "Oh, its *this* period of the year now. Yay." and moving on with my life. ^^

In your case, the whole being allergic to chocolate thing would really add another notch towards not caring about the holiday. ^^
Rooth: Rooth'roo cuterooth on April 12th, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)
I was a practicing Catholic 'til the age of 8, when my folks started breaking apart.

Last night was Wayne's World, a regular D&D group I run with about once or twice a month. It was down in Colorado Springs. And predictably, gramma and the kids were dying eggs. In mostly artistic and creative ways, so that's cool for them. And they'll be hiding them this morning, and going out to find them, and bringing them back and eating them somehow.

To me, Easter is a kid's holiday. I'm not allergic to chocolate, but I'd rather have a Reces Pieces cup than most chocolate bunnies (though I'm sure some are made from good quality stuff, those I've tried have seemed like pastic dyed brown and flavored chocolate). Peeps are fun, but so horribly bad for you. I'm not a health nut by any stretch, but don't we have enough holidays where kids are encouraged to beg for and then gorge on mass quantities of candy?

I have fond memories of the Easters of the 70s, but because of the strong kid-association with the holiday, I don't feel it has anything to do with me anymore. This coming from a guy who has a room in his house literally filled with dragons -- yes, I have an inner child, but it Easter has no attraction to it. For whatever reason. For my first Easter in my apartment after college, I did go out and buy some eggs and dye. But I never even opened the package.

Are you also allergic to carob?
Your Obedient Serpent: foodathelind on April 12th, 2009 05:20 pm (UTC)
No, I LOVE carob.

Alas, carob goodies have become increasingly difficult to find in recent years, when the people touting it as "healthier than chocolate" realized that carob candies were often packed with saturated fats that chocolate DIDN'T have.
scarfman on April 12th, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)

Oh, I dunno. My characters celebrate. For a few years there we watched Jesus Christ Superstar every Easter. This year scarfgirl and bluegiant are visiting and making us dinner. scarfgirl usually watches The History Channel anyway, so we have on this year's Biblical special marathon. I dunno.

Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on April 12th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)
Easter's the money shot of Christianity, so I have long felt that it's the most Christian holiday there is. But it bugs me way less than Christmas because while it is subject to some consumerism and such, it's 1. not as invasive as Christmas (which is EVERYWHERE) and 2. it's over much sooner.

My point: I can ignore Easter, so I do! I mostly don't think of it because it's not shoved in my face all the time.

For me, this is pretty much the model religious holiday. One where the religious folks get together and do their own gig (which DOES involve some public stuff, sure, whatever) and leave the rest of us the hell alone. ;)
Arcaton: jackassr_caton on April 12th, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC)
In the UK, in North East London with a population spanning all belief systems there are usually some shops open all the time. There is usually a Tescos or something else somewhere open.
As you say, Easter is the "money shot" of Christianity. I'm not a communicant, and not a very good Christian at that.. but I do respect and keep the holiday. Makes me consider my life and the way I live.

Can't take chocolate in quantity without heaving....
KehzaFox: pleasedkfops on April 12th, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC)
Every Easter I'd watch The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston!

But then again, I loved the older giant-mass-of-people-and-budget movies!
one in a billionsiege on April 13th, 2009 01:20 am (UTC)
Did Mr. Heston enjoy it as much as you did?
KehzaFox: uncertainkfops on April 13th, 2009 01:29 am (UTC)
Y'know, now that you mention it, he was very quiet through the whole thing.

I was probably embarrassed by the smell.
Araquan Skytraceraraquan on April 12th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
It pretty much means the same thing Valentine's Day means to me- a cheap candy sale (yes, mostly Chocolate) the day after. Only it's all egg-shaped instead of heart-shaped.

Beyond that, I don't attach much significance to it, not having been brought up in anything resembling a religious household.
silussa on April 13th, 2009 12:18 am (UTC)
Mainly just that it's a crazy day at work because so much other stuff is closed. Curious to hear what happened to you at work....I'll bet you WERE swamped.
Your Obedient Serpent: workathelind on April 13th, 2009 12:34 am (UTC)
Meh. The only places in the mall that were open were us, Sears, the movie theater, and a few food places (only two of which were MEAL-type food as opposed to stuff like Cinnabon).

Business fell into a rhythm obviously linked to Movie Screening Time: We'd have long lulls with nothing but lookie-loos (just enough people in the store that I couldn't get anything PRODUCTIVE done, like rearranging shelves and such), then, every even-numbered hour, we'd have about 20 minutes of people Buying Stuff.

We closed at 4. We did a decent amount of sales, but only on the "I've had worse Sundays" scale.
SilverClawbfdragon on April 13th, 2009 01:33 am (UTC)
Easter was always the main christian holiday. I don't think it was until the 19th century that Christmas took off on it's own so Easter was too far established when the real age of consumerism took hold. It wasn't quite the blank slate to be turned into a marketing powerhouse.
leonard_arlotteleonard_arlotte on April 13th, 2009 01:49 am (UTC)
I would fall into the category of 'lapsed catholic'. I didn't make a conscious decision to abandon the faith, nor do I consider myself to have fully left it behind, though I don't actively practice. I do even ponder returning to it from time to time. Were I to make a return to the faith, there would be a good chance that I would do so on Easter. The holiday, though it has a lot of things co-opted from pagan holidays, is at least held in approximately the right time of year, unlike Christmas.

The main thing that Easter currently means to me is that it's the only time of year I can get bags full of blsck jelly beans.
Moonfire: pensivemoonfires on April 13th, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
Easter to me means Reeses' peanut butter eggs. When I was very little, and my parents hadn't decided about religious education, there was informal celebration at our house, with some eggs and candy, and my father's parents usually had a dinner. Later, it just became a dinner at my grandmothers' (my grandfather having died back in 1978). Until today, where it, like many Christian holidays, is an inconvenience in my routine with things closed early or not open at all (especially food places).
ebony14 on April 13th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
Easter is a Family Day for me. I don't actively practice Christianity, though I have faith in God and I believe in some of Jesus' teachings. But Easter is a time to spend with family. I see my parents, celebrate my stepfather's and brother-in-law's birthdays, and marvel at the wonder of my niece. And that is Good.

Oh, and they sell jellybeans at Easter, you know. Shaped like eggs and all that. :)