Reclaiming Easter

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Fluffy pastel-coloured feathers adorn the budding branches in the neighbourhood flower shop, and the local newspaper is full of cheerful ads for eggs, chocolate, and chocolate eggs. Yet, come to think of it, Easter is not such a big deal up here in the North. Not anywhere near the hype surrounding Christmas or Midsummer, say. Easter traditions, to the extent that there are any, are rather pale in comparison. It is not easy to get enthusiastic over Påskmust (just a relabelled version of the Christmas drink) and a slightly different flavour of pickled herrings.

Despite living in a rather secularised society, we all know that it is the resurrection of Jesus we celebrate at Easter. However, ask a random Swede why we eat or colour eggs and what the deal is with all those feathers, the cute bunny or even cuter candy-gathering little witches, and they will likely pick up their phone to look for answers on the internet. Incorporating those spring-tide pagan symbols into the Christian tradition worked only partly, it seems, logical explanations remain the missing link.

- Promotion -

Why waste that motley collection of ancient and powerful Easter symbols, though? Why not reclaim the holiday and fill it up with new meaning? And before you start accusing me of blasphemy, just think about it for a moment.

It is the time of the year when, at least in our part of the world, nature springs back to life, soaking up the renewable energy of the sun. Rivers flow over, invigorated by the renewable force of melting ice upstream. Wind turbines twirl faster with the renewable gusts of southern breezes. No wonder it is a celebration of the resurrection; everything around us screams rebirth and renewal.

Then there is the egg and its circularity. This fragile oval container, safeguarding its golden globe of a yolk, has always been a perfect symbol, reminding us of the circle of life. Not just because of its shape, of course. Scientists might try to convince us that they have discovered the answer to the old riddle about which came first, the chicken or the egg[1], but we know better than that. That dreamy-eyed classmate of Harry Potter’s, Luna Lovegood, pinned it down: “A circle has no beginning.”

Speaking of witches, the peculiar Nordic trick-or-treating Easter tradition brings some magic and darkness into the equation too. Those tiny crones in disguise showing up at your door, in pre-Corona times at least, might not look that scary, but their heritage is. Not that long ago worshipping the powers of nature was equal to witchcraft, the accused often ending up ablaze. Don’t worry though, their modern-day descendants are easily appeased with some candy and ready to bless you with a sweet smile, ancient evil thus conquered.

So, there you have it. In the spirit of recycling old symbols and myths, how about making Easter the new sustainability day? A day to celebrate renewable energy and circular economy, maybe. Or a day to remind us of sacrifices made and the cross we still need to bear in the hope of saving humanity and the planet.

Meanwhile, that shouldn’t prevent us from gorging on ecological fair-trade chocolate. Happy Sustainable Easter, everyone!

[1] With amniotic eggs showing up roughly 340 million or so years ago, and the first chickens evolving at around 58 thousand years ago at the earliest, it’s a safe bet to say the egg came first.

 

Picture @Terralyx via Twenty20

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