Saturday, March 26, 2005

Easter-n Philosophy

Well, another ridiculously lost-in-translation holiday is upon us – Easter.

Easter is another holiday whose religious significance has evolved into something so banal that its very ridiculousness can knock you over the head with all the weight of a four-ton Cadbury’s Cream Egg. It has become just another meaningless excuse to string up enough brightly colored paper streamers to trap wild game, and display stupid cardboard decorations in store windows.

It becomes obvious that any actual historical or religious significance has completely gone to the wayside as you wander through supermarkets and public malls while running your usual weekend errands. Easter isn’t about colorful eggs and bunnies – it’s about betrayal, spiritual penitence and resurrection, and not-to-mention nailing Christians to 2x4s. So where did it veer off course exactly?

The symbol of rabbit during the Easter holiday originated with the pagan festival of Eastre, goddess of offspring and springtime. The Festival of Eastre celebrated the return of spring and utilized the rabbit as the earthly symbol of the Anglo-Saxon goddess. Likewise, the egg was already a popular non-sequitor symbol associated with rebirth that predated Christianity itself. Who can be very surprised considering that it was also these same people who put great deal of stock in what a furry, underground dwelling rodent thought as well?

In the second century, Christian missionaries began to weave their own pious agenda into the pagan practices and ceremonies so as to avoid being instantly boiled alive into missionary soup by their pagan converts. So it was in this clandestine manner that Christianity attached itself to another pagan ceremony which also happened to coincide with it’s own celebration for the Resurrection of Christ. Later, it was the Germans who brought these Easter traditions to the New World along with their precious amazing meteorological prophesying rat. What a floating party that voyage must have turned into once entering International waters!

When it comes down to it - why do we celebrate Easter in the first place? Put yourself in Jesus’ sandals for a moment: if you were to be turned into the local Roman militia by your traitorous best friend just after you’ve cooked him a nice candlelight dinner, to be publicly tried and beaten to a pulp in the streets before your peers, and all just prior to having your body nailed to a wooden cross to ride out the rest of the beautiful sub-zero dessert Easter evening - you’d probably just want to chalk it up to being a particularly bad day and just forget the whole miserable thing ever happened at all, much less create a world-wide day of remembrance for it! And why do they call it "Good Friday"? Considering how this day would turn out, isn't that a bit of an understatement? What's so fucking good about being tortured to death? "Shitty Friday" would have been a much more apt name for this whole nasty business. That’s like naming every August 24th* “Lucky Wednesday”!

More than likely, Jesus would have risen from the grave, returned straight home to his mud hut and taken out his frustrations at the temple by pissing in the potted cactus and drowning his sorrows with sacrificial wine. It’s just not something you brag about with the lepers down at the temple.

So it was here in North America where yet another perfectly good traditional religious holiday, wrapped in pious ceremony and spirituality, was turned into another market-based juggernaught unleashed upon the consumers of the world in an effort to promote and capitalize on more useless holiday schmaltz-value propaganda. Basically, Easter has become the Jan Brady of the yearly holidays.

“…it’s always Christmas! CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS!!!

Easter is the holiday that has been hanging out in the shadow of the Christmas Yuletide tradition for centuries, just waiting for the opportunity to gets its due proper recognition and leap into the holiday spotlight. It’s got all the making of a great corporate inspired holiday – a fanciful fictitious character capable of breaking all the laws of natural physics in order to further spoil the children of the world. Need I remind you that Christmas involves a fat man dressed in red being pulled in a sleigh drawn by flying reindeer to miraculously deliver toys to children all over the world in a single night?

Nevertheless, not to be outdone, Easter has sparked off it’s own unique designated consumer folklore to increase its market value to the common public; complete with oily dye-kits that require the equivalent of an Engineer’s degree to use, squishy plush toys, and foiled-wrapped chocolates and candies that would give Godzilla hypoglycemia. For weeks afterwards, children will be awakening from diabetic comas and suffering withdrawal symptoms like patients at a Vancouver methadone clinic while their blood sugar levels return to normal

But something still manages to keep Easter out of the holiday limelight.

Perhaps it’s the fact that Easter is just too fucking all doom and gloom. Treachery, flailings, piercings, crowns of thorns, hammering, and crucifixions – shit, this may have given Mel Gibson a woody, but I bet the normal public still finds this a bit too morose. It’s surely no cute winged baby in a loincloth spreading love by shooting arrows into peoples hearts – now is it? The whole ceremonial and religious significance has never quite measured up to the ever popular Christmas hype in the eyes of the kiddies, and more importantly, in the eyes of the Consumer General.

Unfortunately, the public is not about to go too consumer crazy purchasing ‘Judas Iscariot Dinner Mats’, and milk chocolate Christ-brand Crowns of Thorns. It’s not likely going to spark the same kind of frenzied holiday shopping melees that Christmas does. In fact, if it was not for the whole freak bunny delivering decorated eggs aspect to Easter, it would be about as much fun as being gangbanged by a herd of wildebeest. Its just too ghastly an event to get a buzz on over isn’t it?

Personally, I see this as a good thing since I am not prepared to handle another pre-season mass consumer meltdown beginning months before the holiday itself. At least I don’t have to suffer listening to seasonal muzac carols like the ‘Twelve Days of Chocolate Bunnies’, or ‘Good King Pontius Pilot’ as I wait for the sour check-out clerk in fuzzy pink bunny ears to price check the ’Twelve Disciples Marshmallow Peeps’ for the blue-haired biddy ahead of you in line. I would rather crucify myself on a clothing rack in the aisles at Walmart, than have to wait out another grim counter queue marathon like one of Lt. Col. Nicholson’s officers in ‘Bridge On the River Kwai’.

Another good point that separates Easter from the usual monotony of other holidays is that you are practically GUARANTEED to get your fix of chocolate and Easter treats – every year! There is no making of lists, and there is no checking of them twice. In fact, nobody knows ANYTHING! You can fuck around all year! In fact, you could show complete disrespect for Charlton Heston and masturbate the entire way through the Good Friday broadcast of the ‘Ten Commandments’, and still be sure to get your holiday booty and token false chocolate idol reward the next day. There is no fat man in a red suit with peppermint schnapps on his breath to kiss ass to – the Easter Bunny apparently doesn’t give a shit what you do.

“Okay, kid. You’ve been a little shit this entire year and deserve a pussy infection. But what do I care? Here’s your candy – rot your teeth out!”

How awesome is that?

Still another positive angle to Easter, is that there is no inevitable “Boxing Day” madness to put up with afterwards. You don’t have to worry about braving any ‘Return Sales’ and ‘Market Blow-Outs’. that more closely resemble the fall of Saigon than they do of common people simply returning ‘one-size-too-small’ consumer tokenisms, and taking advantage of all the local discounted commerce. There is no need to make sure you keep that receipt for your Nestles ‘Easter Chick Crunch’ so that you can return it for one with walnuts later instead. Nobody in his or her right mind would ever consider returning chocolate for fuck sakes!

Likewise, there will be no worrying about having to fake looking all enthusiastic about the six-pack of navy blue socks you get every year from Grandma (I alone, donate enough Navy Blue “MED” socks to the Salvation Army each year to keep an entire regiment of Arctic soldiers feet warm), or having to suffer through wearing your new ‘John the Baptist Fuzzy Head’ bathroom slippers during Easter Dinner just to please your Aunt Ruth.

All in all, Easter isn’t a bad holiday. It’s just “misunderstood”. It allows us to casually forget the seriousness of the brutal Easter sequence of events, and to lose ourselves in the innocent whimsy of the commonly accepted Easter traditions of bunnys and eggs. We are pretty much given three days to run the gamut of sugar rushes until we pass out mid-week in a deep diabetic coma. Are you reborn? Are you forgiven? Who knows? But the guy who invented Easter sure knows how to party! I suppose it was during one of these sweet cocoa binges, that the very concept of an Easter bunny that delivers chocolate eggs to children around the world was first conceptualized. Perhaps the whole biblical scenario itself was the result of one large mass sugarcane hallucination on the Mount of Olives, and we are all actually being played for suckers by our Biblical Corporate forefathers, in a master plot to ensure Church prosperity through the sale of ‘alternate ceremonial icons’ in the name of religious tradition. Shit, simony is alive and well and thriving in your local ‘Laura Secord’ outlet!

* Anniversary of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that laid waste to the city of ancient Pompei.


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