As Emma gets older each holiday we get to think about creating our own holiday traditions. Like the chocolate mint fudge that is a standard at my family's Thanksgivings or the sparkling apple cider that we drank while decorating the Christmas tree. Scott and I will talk over how each family celebrated each holiday; the foods and the moments that made each day remarkable and special. We get the joy of combining each family's traditions, picking the ones that were the most magical to us.
In the past few years there has been a contingency of people who have stopped using traditions such as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Christians that have decided that these get in the way of the true meaning of each holiday. Jesus Christ. I don't know how it happened or when it happened but over the years we have melded pagan celebrations of spring and winter with our Christian celebrations of Christ's birth and resurrection. I don't know if missionaries did it on purpose or if over the years the people blended the two together. Recently it seems that some Christians have been eschewing eggs and Christmas trees because they are not explicitly Christian.
This makes me sad. First it should really come as no surprise that our traditions are based on cultural heritage as well as Christian belief, people do this all the time all over the world. These holidays come as a way to remind us of who we are just as much to remind us of who Jesus is. It makes perfect sense that we would blend our celebrations of Christ with the celebrations of yore, as we as people grow in our understanding of the world we also grow as a culture adjusting customs to each new change and discovery. 60 years ago everyone smoked, but now we know that it's harmful to health and have made legislation against it, removed it from our entertainment and significant amounts of the population do not smoke because they do not want cancer.
Is this combination syncretism? It may have been many years ago. But I seriously doubt that those of us who are hiding Easter eggs are doing so because we are worshipping Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess that seems to be related to the worship of spring. Melding our worship of Christ with the worship of the seasons makes sense because for North American and Northern European cultures the seasons are kind of a big deal. Now that I live in a climate with a winter, spring is exciting, the dawn of new flowers and warm weather is something to be celebrated. As we no longer are dependent on good weather for survival replacing ceremonies worshippng the sun with candy eggs seems appropriate. Looking to our surroundings to find meaning, understanding, and reminders for Christ would be only natural.
That's what these traditions do; they make these days fun, nay, even magical. I remember coming down to the kitchen table on Easter morning and finding a basket full of candy and just feeling like it was magic. My mother always bought good chocolate, so I remember there was a specialness to this day, not every day did we get a beautifully made chocolate egg. This feeling elevates the day to a day of magic, and isn't that what Christ's resurrection is magical? Something that can only be accomplished through an all powerful God, something we can't do?
Of course we can't compare a basket of candy to the resurrection of Jesus. Our traditions can draw attention to the miracle rather than distract from it.
So did Emma get an Easter basket this morning? Yes. Was it full of chocolate? Yes. Did we tell her that the Easter Bunny brought it? Nope. Scott told her that eggs and chicks are new life and we use them as symbols to celebrate the new life that Jesus offers us. Is that true? As long as we make it so.