Saturday, March 22, 2008

Another hijacked holiday

The tricky thing about Easter is that it falls on a different date every year. This year, it comes early and the mass marketing machine has gone into overdrive to make sure we don't all miss it (and hence retailers miss their quarterly windfall from lemming consumers).

Some people think of the Easter season as a celebration of the vernal equinox (spring), others actually celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ. Really, it's turned into a celebration of uber-consumerism. What I hate the most, though, is how even churches and religious groups have bought into the commercialism by hosting egg hunts. And if you ever challenge them on it, the response is something like: "Oh, well, it's fun for the children." I've come to believe the most expensive words in politics and the worst excuse for most unquestioned ideas can be summed up in those three words: for the children.

But what exactly are we doing for the children? We're buying a bunch of cheap plastic eggs and baskets made in China by people living on $3 a day, filling them with a concoction of chemicals we'd never eat alone and lieing to our children: "The Easter Bunny brought all this just for you." I guess it's a bribe for good behavior or so that parents can sneak in the message about the death and resurrection of Christ.

If you're a practicing Christian or even a lapsed Catholic, you're not going to miss Easter. Of course, if you're neither of the above, then you really have no business using a sacred holiday as the backdrop for gorging on sugary confections and hiding decorated real eggs or treat-filled plastic eggs. And what really burns me is that Christianity seems to be the only religion that allows this uber-consumerism to infect their most sacred holidays - Christmas and Easter. Jews don't have the Purim bunny who goes around hiding gragg-shaped chocolates nor do Muslims have the jolly Ramadan chef who brings treats after the month of fasting.

My parents didn't think we were too young or disinterested to understand the true meaning of sacred Christian holidays. We never believed in Santa Clause, called him the Red Devil. I don't remember what the story was with Easter. We did decorate eggs, but I never knew why. The highlight of Easter, though, seemed to be sunrise services out at a lake, new hand-sewn dresses (sometimes with a bonnet) and the annual family photo taken on a timer with Dad running to get into the picture.

So this year, we're not starting some meaningless tradition of hiding eggs and plying Dan with candy. I'd just assume he not know this particular consumer-driven story line. I thought about cooking rabbit for Easter dinner as a symbolic gesture, but I coudn't find rabbit at the Harris Teeter and I didn't want to trek to Whole Foods or rely on Bob the dog to catch our dinner.

But maybe for Christmas dinner, we'll have deer.

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