A Child's Easter in England past
In the Christian faith Easter is far more important than Christmas but as commercial events the reverse is true.
With no faith to speak of these days I will probably enjoy a mixture of the above but brought up as a church going Christian it will be hard to ignore entirely the 'Easter message'.
For me as a child Holy Week, the run up to Easter, was a busy time. It started on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. It was school holidays too but the extra time playing was interrupted frequently by church.
Church was an integral part of any Sunday for us but on Palm Sunday we went to church to celebrate Christ's triumphant ride into Jerusalem. He made a humble entry to Jerusalem on a donkey and the people adored him laying palms in front of him yet a week later he was crucified.
Each Palm Sunday as kids we would receive a small cross made out of a palm leaf which we would place in our bibles. Yes we all had bibles in those days. We were a relatively poor family but a bible was a must. As kids though our bible was one of the advent presentations handed out for good Sunday school attendance during the year. I loved mine but more for the glorious illustrations it held. Of course Jesus was portrayed in Michelangelo style as a fair haired white man. The palm cross would be treasured and at least one made it through into adulthood.
Holy Week began Monday with a visit to church in the evening. Brother and I sang in the church choir. He was pretty good but I was dire and I guess I was tolerated in true Christian spirit. Hymns such as 'There is a green hill far away' would haunt me as a child. I overthought everything and was sensitive to sorrow which meant the whole crucifixion was a nightmare for me.
For Holy Week our traditional choir garb was dumbed down and we wore just the black cassock. Come the Easter weekend when we celebrated the rise from the dead of Christ out came the white surplice.
Each night of Holy Week we would trek off, it was not far actually, to our church.
On Good Friday we did not eat any meat but instead fish was our main meal. That is more of a Catholic tradition but we followed suit in the 50s and 60s; others fast on Good Friday to remember Christ's sacrifice.
Hot Cross buns with plenty of butter would feature across the Easter weekend, the cross on top of the bun symbolising the crucifixion.
Dad would enjoy a long weekend from work. As a building site worker he would be grateful to relax for four days but church would still feature strongly and eat into his time.
As kids we were in some ways spoiled by an elderly family. We had no grandparents and few cousins but we had many elderly great aunts and uncles who supplied far too many Easter eggs and other goodies. Our Easter was a mixture of religion and commercialism I guess.
Easter 2015 may almost pass unnoticed. Since retirement there is no extra day's leave from work to look forward too as every day is a 'holiday'. Church has not featured in my Easter for 40 years or more. There could be an odd chocolate egg to tempt me.
The nearest thing to the Christmas message will be an Easter Christian themed card I will receive from my elderly neighbour; I will reciprocate. But you cannot totally erase a childhood where Christ featured so strongly at Easter.
Faith or no my thoughts will invariably wander to the crucifixion, the Easter message and our increasingly troubled world.
The Easter message is a radical declaration of how God sees every person and, yes, we experience this personally in terms of our own faith.