Easter is coming. Already, hot cross buns and chocolate Easter eggs are being displayed in the supermarkets. While some people are complaining about the consumerism that has taken over this holy day, I look and wonder why no one comments on the symbolism on show.
Easter is the only internationally recognised day of religious signifigance that is based on the lunar cycle that I know of. As a Christian holy day, it has ties back to the Jewish Passover. In turn, that was recognised as falling on the first full moon after the Spring equinox.
So where do the cute bunnies, chicks and eggs come into the Easter story? They really do not fit into either the Christian or Jewish histories. Going back further in time, baby rabbits and tiny chickens were seen are obvious signs of Spring. They are still recognised as such.
Easter is part of the Pagan Circle of Life. After the darkness of Winter comes Spring, with its new signs of life everywhere. Which is why it makes sense for Christians to appropriate this as their holy time too. After all, the Resurrection is about Jesus coming back to life.
But what if Easter was not in Spring? What if, as you chewed on your hot cross bun, you noticed that the days were getting shorter rather than longer? All the chickens would have long since left the nest and grown their adult plumage. The young rabbits would have grown large and now be digging their burrows ready for winter.
Every year, every worldwide celebration, I shrug my shoulders and shake my head. In the land where I live, the seasons do not match the traditions that we have brought with us. Although most people still live in the Northern Hemisphere, many families have moved south of the equator.
Pictures of icy storms are hard to comprehend when you are putting out wildfires caused by long periods of hot, dry weather. Below the equator the seasons run opposite. Summer down here is Winter in the north and north’s Spring is our Autumn.
No, we are not in reverse mode with Spring coming before Winter. Nature does not do that. Our Circle of Life is the same, only set six months out of line with what most people experience.
So, currently our shops are filled with symbols of Spring yet we are heading into harvest time. It is really difficult to keep remembering why we have these festivals when nothing about them matches our day-to-day reality. The sacredness of the day is lost.
As yet there are too few of us who care enough to fight for our own set of traditions. (Except Matariki – more on that in another article). We just shrug our shoulders, shake our heads and smile as we line up at the counter with our Easter eggs. Whether Summer or Winter, Spring or Autumn, chocolate will always be a pleasure.