When I was a child Easter always came in conjunction with a week off from school, Spring Break.
Spring Break always came with Eastertide, but in the public schools were not allowed to call it Easter Break, on account of the separation between church and state. I am not sure when it happened, but at some point those conventions began to change, school boards stopped planning the spring break to coincide with Easter.
Perhaps this was due to a sensitivity to such constitutionally required separations, or maybe it was just because the Easter festivities follow an erratic cycle. It is our lunar holiday.
Easter, like Passover, follows Selene, the wandering Titaness, the silvery-moon.
Sometimes Easter comes as late as my birthday, April 22nd, Earth Day, other times it is as early as my sister Raney’s birthday, March 28th. In those years, when we were growing up we were able to experience the sense of being overlooked that other kids feel whose birthdays fall on holidays like Christmas or New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving or Halloween.
In one sense Easter is about the palette of pastels, the donning of spring garments, the greening lawns and budding trees. It is about hard-boiled eggs died and hidden, and it is about jelly beans, chocolates and other candies.
There is an Easter feast, ham being the most common thing on the Easter table.
For many people Easter has little to do with the commemoration of the risen Christ, which is at the root of the holiday. Jesus, the new lawgiver leading the people to a new promised land.
When we were young we would always watch the Cecil B. De Mill epic, The Ten Commandments, featuring Charleton Heston as Moses, leading the people from bondage.
It was a tradition that more clearly connected the Christian holiday to the Jewish Passover than any sermon I ever heard in church.
My family did not go to church on Easter, we hardly ever went to church at all.
For many folks, Easter marks the equinox, a celebration of the change in the light, from the dark days of winter, to the brightening of the day. Whereas at solstice in winter we celebrate the lengthening of the day and the light’s return, at the equinox in spring we celebrate the rising of the sun’s arch, the increased warmth, and the thawing of the fields.
Easter and the equinox are slightly out of step, but the spring ritual is the same nevertheless.
Easter is a celebration of the risen Christ, it is a celebration of the power of life, over death the expectation of summer, planting and hope for the future.