Hallo again to all.
It is Easter 2013. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.
In the church, this is Easter Week or the Octave of Easter. The miracle of Jesus' resurrection is so astonishing that we need more than one day to process it each year.
But among the world's retailers, Easter is done. Easter decorations and Easter eggs and Easter bunnies and Easter baskets are all marked down to clear the shelves for the next merchandise season.
The Preston (Lancashire) City Council is sponsoring an Egg Rolling day with bonnet making, egg rolling, Easter storytelling, magicians, tea parties, and a human juke box. Cadbury World (Birmingham) advertises an Eggstravaganza, which offers (besides chocolate eggs) various egg trails and a bonnet-making competition. The Easter activity calendar in Canada shows big Easter egg hunts in Alberta, BC, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, and Nova Scotia. The Sydney Royal Easter Show is the largest annual event in Australia, but mostly it has Easter in its name because it happens during the 4-day national holiday from Good Friday through Easter Monday. The Golden Easter Egg race is 'Australian greyhound racing's most sought-after prize'; you can get your betting tips here. Remember that Easter in Australia does not come in the Spring but in the Autumn, so the metaphors of New Life don't work so well there. Australians aren't too keen on rabbits, so the Easter bunny is under quite some pressure there from the Easter bilby.
We'd venture a guess that more than half of the Christian churches in the USA offered an Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday. Shamelessly.
You can wince and shrug off all of these festivities as secular. Some are certainly more secular than others. But we can't see any strong reason why an Easter egg or rabbit is more of a secular symbol than an Easter lily or a hat worn to church on Easter. The egg is a symbol of new life. Lighting a paschal candle is new fire, a symbol of new life. Granted, Cadbury's does not sell chocolate candles, but to a first order all of these symbols began their iconic life as an attempt to find means to bridge everyday life to the incomprehensibility of the Resurrection.
Symbolism is important. Humans need concrete symbols to help us focus our thoughts on complex, intangible, and incredible events. Historically it has worked better to put candles and flowers at an altar than to put eggs and rabbits there. And lambs. Spring lambs. Like all baby animals, a lamb is a symbol of new life. But in Christian tradition, we don't put the lamb at the altar, we slaughter it and eat it, making μαγειρίτσα out of the head. The lamb's skull supposedly gives the broth a uniquely Paschal flavour.
For us at Anglicans Online the timeless symbols of Easter are liturgy and music. For others the timeless symbols might be pysanki or a new hat (or an old hat) or marshmallow peeps or goat's head soup. Whatever it takes for you to better remember the meaning of Easter and the Resurrection is fine with us. We probably won't cringe too terribly much if your favorite symbol of Easter is something that is marked down 40% on Easter Monday.
If we had to pick one symbol of Easter that works best for us it would be the music, and perhaps the single piece of music that works the best for us is 'Jesus Christ is Risen Today'. There's nothing like singing it in church among hundreds of other worshippers, but if you missed it this year, we find this 2009 YouTube recording (made by organist Wayne Burcham-Gulotta at the Church of the Redeemer in Morristown, New Jersey USA) to be a more than adequate substitute.* Many cathedral choirs have recorded this hymn, but these New Jersey people totally nailed it, adding trumpets and timpani to a superb choir.
See you next week.
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