Easter versus Christmas
Ghandi once said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” And it is so true! I say this as a Christian. Christ lived his life without fanfare, without dispensing judgement on everyone he met. He lived a life summed up by the word “love.” It staggers me how few Christians’ lives can be summed up in similar terms.
Christ did not ask for His birth to be remembered. However, he did request that we remember his death through the rite of communion. Communion is a purely symbolic practice, and Christ laid it out in the following terms:
And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. [Luke 22:14-20]
No such request was made for Christmas. Christians of the more conservative persuasion often contend that the early church practice of moving into a new area, “converting” the population and remodeling the native holidays with Christian iconography, means that Christians today should not recognize these holidays at all. Christmas, after all, is simply a replacement for pagan winter solstice holidays, and Easter, as a holiday, is tainted by lingering pagan fertility symbols.
While I would never be opposed to removing the commercial hoopla from what should be holidays of the spirit, I tend to see things along a different tack. Rather than grasping at some desperate argument from how holidays came to be celebrated, I prefer to go back to the source material for an answer. I realize that reading the Bible is become a novelty, what with the convenient alternatives of groupthink and popular opinion, but in the Bible, Christ himself said that he wanted his followers to remember the sacrifice he made for them. He didn’t make that request of Christmas. Oddly enough, Christmas became the holiday most violently hijacked from its origins, extrapolated from the destitute birth of a child in a manger into a corporate juggernaut.
Meanwhile, Easter is simply a means for candy companies to break even through a few weeks of sugar-laden sales. What a shame. What a waste.