Sunday, April 4, 2010

Blending culture, religion, tradition and myth.

Today is Easter for many people out there.  For others, it's the end of Passover.  For another demographic, it's just another spring Sunday afternoon.

What is a mother who straddles firmly the fence between catholicism and paganism to do when trying to explain the implications placed on this day?

Well, I'll tell ya what I've come up with.  In years past, we've gone to Mass, and then combined that with an egg hunt, baskets filled with the traditionally symbolic items (eggs, grass, rabbits, chicks, etc.) and celebratory foods that nod to traditions spawned generations ago.

Mass is explained this way:  In Christianity, it is the belief that the Lord Jesus sacrificed his own life, so that things in the world could change and those who came after him would have it better than he did.  While many people take the idea of him rising literally, it is (and has always been) explained more figuratively in our home.  He did not rise from the grave like a holy zombie (as much as I love the silly zombie imagery,) rather, his name rose and his reputation became greatly esteemed, while his soul was greatly smiled upon by God for his work done on earth. 

The brightly colored eggs, the chocolate eggs, the images of the Easter bunny, baby chicks (Why hello there, Mr. Marshmallow Peep, may I show you the inside of my mouth?) grass in the baskets, even right down to the tradition of what we wear on Easter - all of that is rooted in pagan practices and beliefs, and those traditions are simplified and explained, as well.

We even discuss our Easter dinner.  The cultural implications of the ham (first hams from the last season's slaughter would have finally been cured on Easter,) the lamb (that one's pretty obvious,) the roast beef (spring is calving season, which means that one could afford to slaughter a cow for the first of the year's beef needs,) and the fresh, young fowl hold meaning in many different ethnic subgroups.  We talk about the bigger picture and the similarities between ALL of these beliefs, not just my two.  We speak of how the Hot Cross Bun originated and how well-traveled the idea behind it is.

While she's a bit young yet, I plan on eventually incorporating the specific elements of the overlapping aspects of the Christian, Jewish, and Pagan mythoses, and working that into  some traditions of our own.  Not sure how or what exactly, but it's something I'm looking forward to.

The end desired result for me is a child that is sensitive to the anthropological and spiritual happenings around her, who is gently taught how to lead a life with an open mind and a receptive heart.  Easter is not the only holiday on which to nurture that loving attitude, merely the first one of the year. :)

May all of my readers be blessed today and every day, and may the growing spring bring growing love and contentment. :)

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