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Saturday, 16 January 2016

Fixing Easter

Much excitement over the suggestion that Easter's date may be "fixed" through agreement between Churches. The idea being that Churches should agree to the same date (probably a good idea) and apparently that it should be same-ish Sunday every year. Which I reckon is a blooming awful one.

I know its' a bad idea because the National Secular Society think it's a good one:
But that's not the only reason. If you scroll down a bit in the replies to that tweet of the NSS's, you find this bit of nonsense in response:
 It is remarkable that people still think that a festival that was first celebrated by Jewish Christians in the Middle East would do so to commemorate a goddess (named only once, by Bede) who was allegedly worshipped by the Anglo Saxons. The fact that  only the Germanic languages use names like "Easter" might be a clue that that isn't where the feast comes from, when everybody else chose a name a bit like "Pascha" - coming from Hebrew "Pesach". The Passover.

Which is where Easter as a festival really comes from. Jesus was crucified, we are told by all four Gospels, on or round about Passover. Passover being a celebration of liberation, God's work and God's love for enslaved and refugee people. Passover is a lunar festival. And that's why it moves around in the calendar year.

To fix Easter in the calendar is to take it away from our liberation story that reflects the whole of God's saving work  - including the earthy, incarnational, often inconvenient fact that Jesus was a Jew, following Jewish customs, living a Jewish life in a defeated nation.

To fix Easter in the calendar is to make the convenience of modern life more important than rooting Jesus in the cycles of the sun and the moon - the two lights that God put in the sky to make out the calendar. It puts Easter into the realm of technocrats, tidiness, planners, project managers and administrative assistants. It also puts Christmas at risk of becoming the second-last Sunday in December, to make life easy for the people who run chains of shops. It's "fixing" Easter in the same way that we might fix a car. Or maybe even a tom-cat.

Let the Churches agree to celebrate Easter on the same day. Ideally, see if we can get it so it always agrees with Passover. And let it wander from March to April, from snow-times to bluebell-times. just as it always has. Let's have an awkward, inconvenient, unpredictable, Jewish Jesus. Not a tidy modern one.

10 comments :

  1. We've been here before, both of us.
    http://ecclesandbosco.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/the-book-of-st-richard-chapter-22.html

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  2. Follow the money. That's where all these initiatives originate from.

    Once they renamed Whit/Pentecost Monday as Spring Bank Holiday and fixed its date as unalterably as the last Monday in May, a precedent was set.

    The goddess Eostre being the origin of Easter is one of those factoids which were given new life by the internet. Who originally dug her name out of Bede? was it Frazer?

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  3. and we (and our commentators) covered the parliamentary debates on the topic, http://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2015/04/06/date-of-easter-2016/. Also liked the Michael Sadgrove's recent post http://northernwoolgatherer.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/should-we-fix-date-of-easter.html?spref=tw.

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  4. If the word Easter comes from German pagans, shouldn't an archdruid deny that it exists at all?

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  5. How about fixing it for the second Sunday after Sheffield Wednesday?

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  6. 100% agree, Archdruid. Leave Easter as it has always been, a moveable feast.

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  7. I'd much rather have fixed secular holidays that were nothing to do with any particular religion, convenient and fair for everyone, like they do in America. (we could have Isaac Newton day for example, when we all sit under apple trees awaiting inspiration)

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    Replies
    1. America technically has 3 religious holidays - Xmas, Thanksgiving and the day after Thanksgiving. Albeit the 3rd of those isn't much of a holiday for retailers. Columbus Day? Celebrate a mass-murdering rapist? Bit controversial for the British, I reckon.
      Conveniently, Isaac Newton was born on Xmas Day so knock yourself out for Newton's birthday. I'd like a Dorothy Hodgkin Day, in memory of a woman who had a massive impact on science despite crippling arthritis. She was born mid-May, so we could lose May Day.

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