Children and some adults love holidays. Curmudgeons like myself find them tiresome. They come a bit too frequently to really count as special occasions; they’re also unmoored from the traditions and cultures that once made holidays meaningful. They are all, of course, accompanied by candy, gift-giving and rotten behavior.
Christmas had long since jumped the shark by the time I was born. Even forty years ago all of the “specials” on television featured readily monetizable characters waxing nostalgic about the “true meaning of Christmas.” They generally stayed strictly secular, but made the argument that Christmas was about giving to others, peace on earth and loving your fellow man. Yeah, and buying stuff.
The rest of the holidays are following Fonzie over that shark. Both of the boarders brought home loads of candy from Valentine’s day and St. Patrick’s day. The youngest boarder’s teachers are encouraging him to believe that leprechauns come to his classroom to play pranks. The main one is dying the toilet bowl water green. My child who is something like an eighth Irish doesn’t have the faintest notion where Ireland is, why one might celebrate St. Patrick’s day, or what green has to do with it. He calls it Leprechaun Day and he loves it and the candy it brings.
Easter has nearly as much candy involved as Halloween and now apparently includes toy giving. So far this is limited to children. I haven’t seen any Easter sales at the hardware store: “get your hairy, stinky man a chainsaw for Easter.” Just in case you’re wondering though, I’m pretty sure a new set of Felco pruners would fit in my Easter basket.
My youngest is as of yet un-jaded and so asks me questions no one else would think to: “hey decrepit old guy, what’s your favorite holiday?” I told him it used to be Thanksgiving, but I don’t have one anymore. Holidays now mostly entail overwrought children, surplus candy, and the expectation of happiness. I’m terrible with happiness on demand.
So I think it’s time to seize Easter or as they say in the Vatican: “Carpe Pascham.” Easter comes on the first Sunday after the full moon following the March equinox (It takes a religion or a cell phone company to come up with that sort of delineation). Christianity used it to supplant a good old pagan spring celebration. Most Easter accoutrements are fertility symbols, or symbols of rebirth. Eggs can symbolize the tomb of Christ (and why would I want to eat that?), but they also are a great representation of new life. So are bunnies. In an aside, Hares can get impregnated a second time while still carrying the first litter, a phenomenon called superconception (doesn’t so damned super to me) (Roellig et al Nature Communications 2010).
I’m thinking this year I’m going to get the kids to sow some seeds in the garden – Easter’s awfully early this year but in my little hoop houses we could plant some lettuce, radishes or spinach. This is the kind of tradition I can get behind. It would be nice to see a holiday latched on to some natural cycle so that it commemorates something besides eating candy and getting stuff: Carpe Pascham