Easter easily beats Christmas – who can be sad about the arrival of spring? | Emma Brockes
Easter is the best vacation, hands down, no debate. In October, when the first Christmas decorations begin to appear, it triggers deep terror in all right-thinking people. I’m in the US, where Thanksgiving doesn’t land for me, same as the 4th of July. There is no holiday for Halloween, but in any case it is a fair occasion for children. Like everything else, Easter has become more commercial – stores are full of wicker baskets filled with shredded paper which, once knocked over, will never be completely erased from your home. But compared to other holidays, it feels like the only adult break of the year. Really, who can be unhappy with the arrival of spring?
For non-believers brought up in a roughly Christian tradition, part of the joy of Easter is that it’s divorced from religion without secular mythology springing up in its place. “The Easter Bunny isn’t real,” said one of my kids this week, and after thinking about it for a moment, I realized she was right. No one sells the Easter Bunny as real to their children, even though we are desperate for Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. I don’t know why that is; on paper, a giant rabbit is no more ridiculous than a fat man flying on a sled. But no one cares enough about Easter to set the stage, and the resulting low pressure of the event is sublime.
In fact, it’s barely an event. There are no Easter rules, no expenses or disbursements, and only the most minimal foresight and planning required. Hit the shops for some Cadbury Mini Eggs and a Big Chicken and you’re set for the weekend. You can see your family if you want, but you don’t have to. There is no Easter equivalent of Friendsgiving, or Friendsmas, at least not one that requires its own word. Being alone at Easter is not a thing. You can spend the entire long weekend watching all five seasons of Breaking Bad and eating from your kettle without fighting the message that you’re wrong.
Perhaps things look particularly joyful this year because, unusually, Ramadan, Passover, and Easter all line up. Like an eclipse, it only happens once every few decades and puts millions of us on the same page. In the United States, public schools close for a week, so it’s not the two-week juggernaut of the Easter holidays in England. But we have Friday off, the sun is finally out and the roadside daffodils are blooming. It can be difficult to enjoy summer knowing that summer is passing. But at Easter, all good is to come.
And with low expectations, it’s hard for things to get too disastrously off the rails, or for the Easter weekend to be held back by too vivid memories. As a kid, all my Easter drama was about making the chocolate bunny last, starting with the ears and nibbling half an inch a day so that the grizzled carcass of his feet was still in the fridge at the end of May. In my 20s, my Easter memory is the bus replacement service; trail work that still seemed to be scheduled for that weekend when I got home.
It didn’t matter. There was no rush. No one is in a hurry at Easter. You have days and days to get there; it’s not like the mad dash on Christmas Eve. If you wander around on Good Friday and miss your train, you still have all Saturday to get home, and if you miss Easter Sunday, there is still Easter Monday. I’m not saying there aren’t bad Easter memories among the good ones: Harry Secombe singing the Old Rugged Cross on ITV; Baked cake; off-brand chocolate that turned to a watery paste in your mouth. In 2002 the Queen Mother died on Easter weekend and I returned to London to work. This year I know a lot of hacks that look very nervously in the direction of the queen. It’s only Easter; if something happens, you can’t really say no.
But the flower is out in New York, we’re heading into a big noncommittal break, and summer is yet to come. It took a long time to get here. Recognizing the superiority of this weekend is something that only comes with maturity, like understanding that dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate and cheese is better than any chocolate. Happy Easter.