Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter - when?

Easter is a holiday in flux. Okay, that should snag everybody’s attention.

Easter according to Wikipedia is a “moveable holiday.” The term “moveable holiday” can really get the brain grinding. However, what the description is referring to is the fact that Easter has not been assigned a regularly occurring date on our modern calendar. Instead, the annual observance of Easter, as the Resurrection of Jesus, is determined based on the occurrence of the vernal equinox and the phase of the moon. (You can click to Wiki and read the whole entry.)

Having been around for a while now, but we’ll leave out just how long that has been, I from time to time have found a bit of frustration and occasionally downright exasperation with the inconsistency of the month and the weather one can anticipate for Easter every year. Last year wasn’t too bad when it fell on April 8th, but the year before that in 2006 was even better when it arrived on April 16th.

Let’s take this year though; Easter will be in two days on March 23rd. Today the weather is cold, not breezy or a slight nip in the air; it is cold – as in27 degrees cold. Tomorrow there is snow in the forecast and Sunday might make it into the 40’s but there is still a chance for snow. This is not the weather of which the term Easter Sunday brings to mind.

This is not the first time I have been forced to consider wearing a Christmas wool suit and galoshes to an Easter service instead of something pastel and spring-like. The earliest memory I have of an Easter blizzard was my junior year in high school. I was part of a local folk group that was the special music for the Community Sunrise Service. Fortunately, it was scheduled to be indoors since it was March. The girls all wore pastel “maxi skirts” (sorry I couldn’t find a good link for this but they were floor-length) and white high-heeled sandals. By the time the service was over there were 4 inches of snow on the ground and roads were closing even though it hadn’t been snowing when we arrived.

In light of such a history I am offering a suggestion to the calendar powers that be; it is time to scrap the equinox and moon phases, and pick one regularized Easter celebration. Whatever prompted the algorithmic contortions of the historical method for setting the date in the past has been lost long ago. What we know as Easter is an event that took place on a specific date that we really have little hope of recovering. Christmas has a similar problem but people got over themselves and just settled on a date that could be anticipated and in a way of thinking “made sense.”

So, as a nod to progress and the complexity of modern life, I think it would make excellent sense for the observance of Easter to be regularized to the third Sunday in April. That would place it roughly between the fifteenth and the twenty-fifth of April for most years. That weekend would still be early enough to be spring and late enough to allow for spring-weight apparel to be worn in typical years.

Now, while I am quite serious in my suggestion I am not anticipating that this will have the slightest influence on the scheduling of Easter in the future, in and of itself. Perhaps if there are enough voices over time a reconsidering might take place; who know? But until that day we will continue to be held hostage to the taciturn equinox/moon phase determinants for when Easter will be observed. So keep those wool suits and galoshes handy.

I realize this is potentially a touch stone topic. So, comments are welcome and rants are not. If you insist on posting a diatribe you can be guaranteed of being deleted.


chelle said...

I, on the other hand enjoyed Easter early this year. Throughout my life (and now my son's) I have had to endure birthday celebrations postponed or worse SHAREd with Easter. Now I am all about self-importance but I think my mere existence is hardly competition to the holy mourning and celebration of Christ ... So my son & I (birthdays days apart) will celebrate feverishly this year :)

Melissa Donovan said...

I rarely celebrate Easter, but I do prefer it when holidays are assigned an annual date. Thanksgiving works the same way, and I'd rather it was just always on Nov. 25th or some other day of that month -- except I do like that it's always on a Thursday, and that often leads in to a four day weekend!

Melissa Donovan