Wednesday, April 12, 2006

And while we're on the topic...

While we're discussing spiritual significance, let's talk about Easter.

I sometimes have a tough time at work dealing with religious holidays -- as I'm sure more than just a few of the people who work in the advertising industry do. As with any sort of largely recognized holiday -- Valentine's Day, Christmas, Easter -- people want to put thematic elements in their advertising. They want graphics that mesh with the theme of the appropriate season.

And as such, during easter, I find myself at our online clip-art service, searching for easter-related clip-art. And inevitably what I get is a bizarre fusion of rabbits, chocolate eggs, and crucifixions. And the three don't mesh together in my head very well.

For some reason, the "Santa Claus / Birth of Jesus" elements don't collide quite so violently in my head. Maybe it's because the birth of Jesus is a far more peaceful story, maybe it's because there are elements of "gift giving" in the birth story, and maybe it's just because Christmas is now so overly commercialized that it wouldn't surprise me to see a corporation toss a Santa suit on a replica of Jesus if they thought it'd help them sell a few more toaster ovens.

Easter is different though.

Jesus' involvement with Easter is not pleasant. It doesn't carry with it the sorts of feelings one gets when one thinks about cute little bunnies hopping around in lush, green fields, laying chocolate eggs while they cluck like a chicken.

That sort of image is cute and fuzzy and it warms every but the most frigid of hearts.

Jesus, on the other hand, was nailed to a cross, the cross then stuck in the ground so he was hanging on those nails, and left to die a very slow, excruciatingly painful death.

Not so warm and fuzzy. Unless, I suppose, you're the Hannibal Lector type.

Yes, there's the whole "resurrection three days later" element to Easter, and that's kind of warm and fuzzy. Not to mention the whole "dying for your sins" bit, which also has its share of warm fuzziness.

But neither of those hints of warm and fuzzies can compare to: Man. Nailed. To. Cross. And. Left. To. Die. Painfully.

Simply put, I don't get this modern, North American version of easter. It confuses me. It makes my brain hurt. And quite frankly, I can't wait for it to be over so I can go back to searching for clip-art images that don't force my mind to try to merge two very, very different sets of imagery into one single, confusing, troubling idea.

(Note: This notion was very, very close to being the basis for my column this week, but I ultimately went with something safer, and something less potentially prone to offending the Christian readers that a "spirtually ambiguous" type like me might actually have. For those Christian readers who might have stumbled upon this subject at this, Hi! Hope you're not prone to taking offense to things like this...)


elise_on_life said...

Hey, it's confusing to me too! The two definitely don't seem to mesh too well. (wow, I've just used all three "to" homynyms in one sentence!) I've heard some explanations of the bunnies and crucifixion combo, you can decide how fitting they are. One is that the bunnies, flowers, eggs, etc. celebrate new life that comes as a result of Christ's death/resurrection. Or, that eggs are something people used to give up for Lent season, and so when Easter came, people celebrated and decorated eggs. I don't know if the origins of traditions can ever really be explained!! Have to go - students walking into class!

Todd said...

Oh, students...aren't they constantly in the way? :)

I think I'm less concerned about the origins of stuff as I am about what they are and mean today, and to me, today, the Easter bunny is simply an easily commercialized figure that can help Cadbury sell overpriced chocolate.

Which I don't mind most of the time -- I work in the advertising department of a newspaper, for pete's sake. I can't get too worked up about advertising.

But there's something about the commercialization of religious holidays that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And should leave a bad tate in anyone's mouth, I think, regardless of their own independent feelings about that religion.

I *dare* someone out there to throw a "death of Jesus" sale for easter next year.

C'mon, i know someone out there wants to.