Sunday, April 8, 2007


I never had friends or acquaintances in the Southern Hemisphere until I began blogging a few months ago. As I looked at Blue Mountain Easter e-cards this morning I realized that they were appropriate only for the Northern Hemisphere, where Easter is equated with spring, and is the gateway to summer.

How can one send “springtime” Easter cards to friends whose autumn has begun, and for whom Easter must be the harbinger of winter?

I learned a long time ago that the people of any country tend to feel that their nation is the center of the world – the most important place there is -- and I thought I had cured myself of that way of thinking until this morning, when I realized how limited I remain. It just never occurred to me that Easter wasn’t always associated with springtime, with renewal, nature’s rebirth.

I would welcome any comments about concepts of Easter from people who live in the part of the world where Easter ushers in winter.

My perception of Easter’s significance has become pagan rather than Christian, and any great importance of the day in my life ended when I was about seven years old. Until then Easter was a very special occasion. My two younger brothers and I looked forward to being unleashed early on Easter morning to look for our respective Easter baskets – which might be hidden anywhere in the living room area. We had previously dyed Easter eggs different colors, and those would be found nestled in odd places. Each little boy found some kind of stuffed animal – usually a rabbit – in his basket, along with a chocolate bunny, chocolate eggs, and jelly beans, all on a soft nest of straw.

Where did Jesus fit into this? Not at all, as far as we children were concerned, until we were dressed up in our best short pants and shirts and forcibly taken off to church to squirm through prayers and a resurrection sermon, looking forward to getting back home to our stuffed animals and the fragrant, baking ham bristling with cloves.

May your Easter – if you have one – be exactly what you want it to be.


  1. my easter continues to be spent with my children and thier desire to manipulate me into giving them more chocolate bunny ears......

    i wouldn`t have it any other way.

  2. The thing about these great public festivals is that they mean different things to those in different times and climes and latitudes.

    As little children we are assailed with all sorts of lore, but our brains are such that we instantly try to make sense of it anyhow.

    This plasticity of comprehension is essential to an understanding of human cultures.

    "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!" said the White Queen.

    I recall my mother telling me that as a child she believed a certain street was called "Easter Scent" and simply accepted it till she discovered it was actually "East Ascent".

    It's no problem for children to accept Spring in Autumn, just as they can accept Disney's Blizzard Beach in Florida, where you can enjoy blazing sun whilst imagining yourself on a glacier.

    There are militant atheists like Richard Dawkins who imagine that when we stop preaching irrational ideas like those of Christianity, then children will learn to be rational scientists and thus there will be no more war. Which only goes to show he's as blind as the rest of us!

  3. Alistair, it's good to know that the traditions are continuing.

  4. Yves, "plasticity of comprehensiion" is an apt phrase. And thanks for reminding me of those words of the White Queen.

    The idea that eliminating teaching of religions will cure humans of "superstition" and create a rational society has been put into practice more than once in the past century, hasn't it? So far, superstition has always crept back -- either because the effort to make people forget it didn't last long enough or because "superstitition" includes something intrinsic and indispensable to humans.

  5. Generally (if am in a good mood) wish everyone "Best wishes for the season of re-birth and renewal" - which is psychological, and sort of encompasses all the ancient Festivals, including christianity - though even there, I think the legend of a "God born of virgin who died and was resurrected after three days more rightly belongs to Attis, and "Oestre" was a Northern European fertility goddess.

    The Roman priesthood on Mons Vaticanus pinched and incorporated quite a few of the Pagan rituals and Festivals to help "sell" their product - very successfully, apparently.

    I still can't figure out how Friday became "Good" though, unless it is to remind the followers that if you buck the "system of Empire" with independent thought, you'll end up with a very horrible and painful death, and "going up to Heaven" is still an unproven afterlife destination.

    The really weird and paradoxical Festival in Australia is "Christmas" (originating from Saturnalia et al) where we pretend that it's mid-winter, spray fake snow etc. on the windows, and try to get through meals of baked turkey and plum pudding while the dry dust and bushflies swirl around in temperature hovering around 40C (100F).

    Even the "Four seasons" are a European import, as the changes don't quite match with what the weather is doing - and there is a little known campaign to try to get the notional "seasons" changed to match up with the aboriginal system of changes (they had six or seven, apparently).

    Can't see that happening anytime soon, though.

    Anyway - Best Wishes to all, at this period of Rebirth and Renewal.

  6. Davo, I'm glad that somebody from the Southern Hemisphere decided to talk about the seasons and festivals down there. Very interesting.

    In Florida we have a Christmas situation like you described. It doesn't snow here, and rarely freezes, and so we rely on various snow substitutes, fake icicles, etc.

    I was especially interested to learn that your seasons don't match the standard four.
    In Florida (according to the northerners) we have only two seasons: Summer and fall.

  7. both religion and science tend to lead to tyranny.

    the honest spirit is a personal one and, as such, cannot be bureaucratised.

    after all, who taught buddha?

  8. Alistair, it seems that any system which purports to "explain" things and give people the comfort of apparent understanding (which is often only the application of different names) is the material of mental tyranny.

    Good question, "Who taught Buddha?" The trouble is that unlike Buddha I'm still susceptible to "explanations" from apparently wiser people . . . but I'm learning

    Thanks for the comment.