A very merry secular Easter

I just got back from my family’s annual Easter holiday meal at my aunt and uncle’s house. That in itself is very average, but the strictly secular nature of it isn’t. Allow me to explain.

As far back as I can remember, we’ve gone to my aunt and uncle’s house for Easter. My aunt is the only Christian in the family (and barely at that?), so this is one of the two times of the year she can relive the traditions from her youth. She rather likes having the family together and eating the classic Easter foods. Everyone else in the family is pretty much Jewish, lapsed Jewish, or full-on atheist. As such, it’s not exactly a very religious occasion. Yeah, we have all the usual Easter foods, including the smoked ham which everyone ate (so much for keeping kosher). And we used to do the Easter egg hunt thing every year, but we “kids” have grown out of it. We watched March Madness basketball games on the television before and after the meal instead.

But the religious nature of it was completely missing. I only heard one reference to God the whole time, and that was when my dad made one of his usual faux pas comments, asking “Nobody here really believes Jesus died for our sins, right?” I didn’t hear anyone with an affirmative answer. I suppose that could be incredibly offensive at other people’s Easter celebrations, but we just sort of groaned at him a bit and continued eating.

To all those out there who don’t believe but are saddled with a family who does, just know that there is hope. The religious aspects can be cleanly excised from traditional celebrations such as Christmas and Easter, leaving in all of the fun parts while losing nothing of worth. After all, those two are based on Pagan holidays anyway. You can have as many chocolate eggs and Easter rabbits as your heart desires without any of the Christ.

11 Responses to “A very merry secular Easter”

  1. William (green) Says:

    “Secular Easter: Now with 98% less Jesus!” then?
    I didn’t realize an Easter meal was traditional. I forgot it was Easter today, actually, and was somewhat doubtful given that Google doesn’t have a special banner for today.

  2. Cyde Weys Says:

    Google’s too cool for religion :-P

    Secular holidays are awesome. Just the fun stuff, none of the boring stuff. It reminds me of Richard Dawkins’ take on funerals, saying that all of the religious stuff is thoroughly boring and insipid, while all of the secular stuff tailored specifically to that person (such as their remembrances of their life) is the most touching part.

  3. Kat Says:

    I agre with Richard Dawkins. When my mother died, there were two services. One was the traditional full-on Catholic Mass, for the extended family and casual friends. I didn’t go — I went to the reception afterward to see the rest of my family, but I couldn’t stand to go to the church service and hear about how she was in heaven. (I am terrible with black humor… one of my religious relatives saw me afterward and told me “she’s gone to a better place now.” My first thought was to glance at the beflowered table and think “in the urn?” My attempt to stifle a laugh made my eyes tear up, which looked enough like crying to be decorous…)The second service was the one she wanted — about twenty adults gathered in a room with a soundtrack from the Moody Blues and Elton John, not wearing black, taking turns reading from her favorite book, The Velveteen Rabbit. Yes, the kids’ book. And we were all bawling.

    Easter was never very religious for me, because my immediate family wasn’t so religious as to make a big deal out of Jesus coming back from the dead; it was mostly about wearing funny bonnets, looking at the huge display of flowers at church, and waiting for church to be over to go hunt eggs and eat candy.

  4. Larry Pieniazek Says:

    No religion on a religious day?

    It’s that way at our house too, the closest we got this year was someone (the resident gamer) mentioning “this is Jesus Zombie day”… (i.e. zombies are raised from the dead)… Most years we have no mentions at all.

    Google too cool? well… they do mark St Patricks day and St Valentines day and all Hallows Eve and Christmas, all of those started as religious days, so I’m not sure I completely agree. Perhaps they skipped Easter because it’s more than one holiday this year?

  5. Kelly Martin Says:

    I remember going to my grandfather’s funeral and having a hard time with all the religious nonsense that I stopped believing decades ago.

    As for traditional Easter meals, I’m of the opinion that hassenpfeffer is appropriate, although I’m not terribly fond of it myself. But I have a strange sense of humor.

  6. Guy Brandenburg Says:

    Many of our supposedly Christian holidays have much-more-ancient pagan roots, especially Easter and Christmas. Since anybody with an ounce of sense can see that all of the ‘facts’ in the new and old testaments of the Bible are made up anyway, then let’s just enjoy having family get-togethers with good food, and forget about the nonsense religious stuff.

  7. Cyde Weys Says:

    Yeah Guy, I definitely hear you on that one! It makes so much more sense to celebrate the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox anyway, both of which are real astronomical events that were celebrated by the Pagans then co-opted by the Christians, losing most of the meaning of them in the process. I’d much rather celebrate the coming of Spring than the rising of Zombie Jesus.

    And by the way, I know I haven’t seen you for awhile in the workshop. I’ve still been working on my scope, it’s just been slow progress. I’m coming back soon, I promise. I need to make the tube assembly, but once that’s done, the mount is pretty much ready to drop it into, insert the unsilvered mirror, and see how well it works.

  8. LA Says:

    I once worked in Hospice care.

    It was interesting to hear from the dying how they lived their lives as atheists, but now on their deathbed, believed in God or a higher power.

    I don’t worry too much about the details in the Bible and other long-ago writings. They all basically say the same thing — Love your neighbor and, your enemy. Yet we humans have yet to learn to follow such simple words.

  9. Cyde Weys Says:

    LA: I find it hard to believe that lots of atheists are undergoing deathbed conversions. I find it much easier to believe that people who haven’t been particularly religious most of their lives suddenly get a lot more serious about it right before death.

    It does tell you something about the primal factor driving belief in religion, though — fear. If you can’t find satisfaction within yourself on the tricky issue of death, you can always just buy into a fantasy that death isn’t really the end, but the beginning of eternal bliss.

  10. George Says:

    It’s not fear, but more likely regret that they did not try to learn of or follow God in their lifetime. I am 68 and am at an age where I have watched some of my friends get ill and die.

    “Cyde”, in another posting you lamented the passing of your 23rd birthday. Wow. I think if you thought outside the box you are in and believed in a higher being or God, you might feel better about yourself and perhaps even finish your telescope (which is how I found this website).


  11. Cyde Weys Says:

    George: I’m struggling to comprehend the parallels you’re drawing there. What does believing in God have to do with completing a telescope project? If anything, it would make me farther behind, because I did a fair amount of work on the telescope on early Sunday afternoons (rather than wasting time in church). No, the real reason I haven’t worked on the telescope for awhile is because I have other hobbies vying for my attention. So blame it on ham radio, and now, bass guitar.

    And while I can see how believing in a infinite life after death might help some people feel better about aging, I’m not one to turn to fantastical delusions like that. Your argument for religion is very unconvincing. It boils down to “Believe in X because X makes you feel good!” It completely ignores any matters of truth or verifiability. I believe in things not because that’s how I would like things to be, but because that’s the way things are.