March 23, 2008
Pagan Moon Stuff
Happy Easter, I guess. Not that I much care about the resurrection of Jesus these days, and I can't say I ever much believed in it, really. Easter just seemed such a second-rate holiday. It's supposed to be the holiest day in the Christian calendar, but it never felt convincing: Thanksgiving and Christmas were obviously so much more important, even though Thanksgiving was supposed to be secular and national rather than religious.
There were two things I always liked about Easter: getting a pretty new spring dress, and the way it moved around. Ever wonder how Easter is reckoned? Well, I learned long ago in a class on medieval literature. Easter follows the lunar rather than the date calendar, because people went on pilgrimage at Easter time, and they needed light to travel by, and the sun and the full moon were really the only things that provided much light long about the sixth century. So Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox--the vernal equinox bit being important because Easter supplanted all sorts of pagan spring festivals--hence the bunnies and eggs and such.
Easter this year is about as early as it can be. The equinox was Thursday; the full moon was Friday. The earliest it could possibly be is the equinox itself, if that were also a full moon falling on a Sunday.
On my mission I went to church one Sunday morning in March and wished the elders "Happy Easter," because it was Easter. They told me it wasn't Easter, couldn't be Easter, because Easter was always the first Sunday in April. I explained about the equinox-full moon thing, adding, "Go home and ask your families when Easter is this year. They'll tell you I'm right," but the elders informed me--foolish, misinformed girl that I was--that there was no way determining the date of a holiday could be so silly or arbitrary. They were ADAMANT, and of course I had no evidence to support my claim, because there wasn't a single mention of Easter in any of the lessons or talks that day. The country as a whole didn't pay attention to Easter (and why should a non-Christian country bother with it?) and no one but me cared about observing the progress of the calendar, so no one but me knew it was Easter--even though, as I say, it was supposed to be our holiest day, the day on which the miracle that justified our entire religion occurred, some two thousand years before.
Yeah. If I ever forget why I found my mission frustrating or why I gave up on Christianity, thinking about that always helps me remember.
Anyway, if you celebrate and enjoy the holiday, I hope it rocks for you.
Posted by holly at March 23, 2008 10:55 AM