Pinning down Easter...

  1. ROFL when I read this..

    Happy Easter... whenever we decide it is to be

    Jonathan Sale
    Sunday April 4, 2004
    The Observer

    It's good Friday this week but check your diary to make sure. The date wobbles to and fro like an Easter bunny on ecstasy. After 2,000 years the most sacred point of the church calendar dashes around the calendar with more than a month's variation. We are in the year of the Blessed St Mel Gibson and still the four-day bank holiday can involve snowdrifts or suntan lotion. And as the Easter weekend shuffles about, it shunts the 40-plus-day Lent period backwards and forwards, so you can find yourself eating pancakes shortly after the January sales.
    The key fixture, Easter Sunday, is not fixed at all, being the first Sunday after the full moon following the spring equinox. Or something. This shambles used to be worse. At one point, 'full moon' did not necessarily mean a full moon as such but a theological full moon on a date determined by the number that priestly bigwigs first thought of. Also, the timing of Easter was once based on the Jewish calendar, which had only 354 days in its year and caught up with the gentile calendar by shoving in an entire 'leap month' every so often. Booking Easter breaks was tricky.

    It is incredible that we can put a man on the moon but still allow lunar, not to say lunatic, considerations to dominate when we take our days off. In an attempt to be helpful to the established churches, I suggest that it would be easier to persuade non-believers that the Crucifixion actually took place if you celebrated it on the same date each time. You would not believe anyone who said, 'today's my birthday - but it was on 13 March last year.'

    Thank heavens that other holidays aren't so anarchic. How would we cope if Christmas ambled around between November and late January? Imagine the childish tears when Father Christmas came down chimneys after the kids had gone back to school. Would we allow our end-of-summer day off to become the July or October Bank Holiday?

    The re-branding of Christmas as a Christian festival was much better handled. The Early Church Fathers went round altering the Anglo-Saxons' desk diaries. Crossing out 'Pagan Festival to Cheer up Dark Days in Dark Ages', they inserted 'Terribly Authentic Christmas Celebrations' and when anyone complained, they asked crossly: 'Look, do you want any presents in your stocking this year or not?'

    With Easter, the Early Church Fathers, and possibly Mothers, began well by infiltrating the festival devoted to 'Eastre', the goddess of springtime, whose symbol was a rabbit. They claimed the pagan pocket diaries had misprinted the last two letters in the word. And when the pagans complained, the Early Church folk demanded: 'Do you want chocolate eggs this year or not?'

    My own solution is a totally random Easter. At the open prison, or minor public school, where I spent my sinful youth, we used to get the day off whenever anyone's father won a Nobel Prize. Since the institution was situated in a prestigious university town, this happened fairly frequently - but unpredictably. Surprise was a crucial factor, which suggests that the nation would enjoy a totally random Easter, based on the Lottery. One of the balls, labelled with an E, would pop out and trigger the celebration for the following weekend. Then you could rapidly book your mini-break to, say, Easter (or Eastre) Island.

    Or you could vote on it. Seven celebrities would each propose a different date and viewers would ring in, all calls costing 1 with proceeds going to the Easter Bunny Fund for Third World Countries. Or, we could all have different Easters, which would cut down on traffic jams: surnames starting with A would celebrate in mid-January, while Z would mean mid-December.

    In fact, a 1928 Act of Parliament proposed a fixed date for Easter in early April - assuming the rest of the world agreed, which it hasn't yet. It is clearly going to take a miracle to sort it all out. Or, as St Mel would say, another miracle.
  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   barefootlady
  4. by   psychomachia
    funny how all these Christian holidays (Easter, Christmas) coincide with pagan holidays...
  5. by   Rustyhammer
    Quote from psychomachia
    funny how all these Christian holidays (Easter, Christmas) coincide with pagan holidays...
    I believe the pagan holidays came first is the reason why.
  6. by   psychomachia
    Quote from Rustyhammer
    I believe the pagan holidays came first is the reason why.
    Exactly the point I was making...