In our local paper this morning, here in Brisbane, there is actually an
article written by an Anglican priest, in which he is exhorting Christians everywhere to step back from Christmas altogether; he says we should just leave it to the shops and the secular enjoyment of the day, and instead reclaim the Incarnation by turning our focus to Easter instead. Not such a bad idea, really - there is never going to be a widespread resurgence of the religious significance of Christmas,that is a losing battle, and it was a pagan festival in the first place,wasn't it - adopted by the Christians in about the 3rd or 4th Century.
Oh, let's not. Let's not do that.
I understand his feelings about Easter. As a child our nuns always told us that we should celebrate Easter above all, since the Resurrection is the most important event. But I just never have been able to muster the excitement for Easter that I have for Christmas.
I know exactly why.
Christmas, celebrated in the dead of winter, is a cozy holiday. It's full of warmth and pretty lights and delicious food. Stockings are stuffed and a jolly old elf visits while we sleep, if we've behaved ourselves. Children's eyes sparkle in front of the tree.
At the heart of it all is a poor little baby, born to a poor family in a lowly place. A brand new baby who brought a new way of thinking. A baby who asked only one thing, "Love one another".
And this also warms the heart.
It's not that Easter isn't heart warming. It's just not heart warming the way Christmas is heartwarming. For one thing, it's spring, and usually, we're already warm. We don't need comfort food in the spring.
Christmas is sweetly miraculous, fully joyful and nurturing. Easter is mystical and glorious.
There is a reason those pagans threw a winter festival. We still need to stop in the dead of winter and love one another. We just have a way better reason than the pagans have.
I do think people could calm down about Christmas. There's no need to stress out so much about it. But I think that the reason that we do is because we actually do take it seriously, that we want to leave no stone unturned to send out love and greetings and cookies and toys. We don't want to leave anyone out and we sincerely want to bring joy to each other.
That's not such a bad reason for all that shopping, really. The Magi brought gifts, the shepherds came over. It was all lovely.
A poor little baby will always be at the heart of it. We're not really pagans.
And why on earth does anyone who believes there is a War on Christmas not believe there isn't a War on Easter? I think Easter seems much more secular than Christmas, with bunnies and eggs and plastic grass and fancy hats. And least Christmas has a saint deliver the goods, not a giant invisible bunny. I have never heard a peep from the War on Christmas crowd about Easter. What's up with that?