I’m blogging about Easter again, sorry. This time spurred by an online conversation between friends about the appropriateness or not of being wished “Happy Easter” on Good Friday. Classicists of the world, wrack off – yes I DO know the entire event was probably lifted from pre-existing pagan rites of spring, but for the purposes of this post I’m limiting my gaze to the Christian concept of Easter. More learned figures from my own tradition will also have to bear with my amateur’s perspective as like 90% of the population I’m just working with what I’ve inherited and only partially remembered.
Easter is in fact a period which traditionally covers four days over a weekend in April. “The Passion” covers the full event from a nice boozy meal out with friends, through falling asleep in the local park and getting arrested, beaten up and framed by the local plods, public execution, being buried (and dead for a while) then coming back to life a day or so later.
I *think* (and will stand corrected by m’learned commenters) that Good Friday is the crucifixion, Easter Saturday is the death of self and of hope/potential whilst Easter Sunday is the resurrection, hence the over abundance of eggs symbolising new life – not just in the physical sense for JC but in the spiritual sense of those of us whose inherited karmic tab just got picked up by somebody else, which is what we celebrate on Easter Monday. With a barbeque. (This may not actually be compulsory but having grown up in Australia it’s hard to be sure…)
Thus wishing someone “Happy Easter” on Good Friday is a bit like turning up to the house with casserole and cabernet ready for the wake while the family is still trying to sit Shiva. A small point admittedly, but a socially significant one.
Easter won’t get happy until Sunday. Yes, Jesus was a zombie. We CAN justly celebrate this, the literally torturous lead-up possibly less so, though atheists like SL may differ with me on this. But at the same time, any joy we may feel is naturally tainted by the natural psychological reaction of survivors’ guilt. Guilt that someone else suffered unjustly whilst we escaped scot-free. It raises deep, personal questions. Why them? Why US?! Could it happen again? Does any natural happiness we go on to feel in the hours, days and years afterwards somehow mean we’re being ungrateful and saying “sucked-in” to those who didn’t make it every time they’re allowed to slip from the forefront of memory?
As human beings, we manage these feelings of guilt with anniversaries – the celebrations you have when you’re not having a celebration, but need to remember something, if only so you don’t ever forget. I was inspired to think in this manner when I stumbled across Jonathan Jones’ piece in The Guardian newspaper on The Meaning of 9/11′s Most Controversial Photo and about its re-emergence after the Magnum photographer responsible (Thomas Hoepker) had initially decided not to release it.
For now, I’ll just wish everyone “Happy Easter for Sunday” to you and your families.
Do enjoy the barbeque.