I caught this article on Slate.com today by James Martin
Here are some interesting excerpts:
"Sending out hundreds of Easter cards this year? Attending way too many Easter parties? Doing some last-minute shopping for gifts to place under your Easter tree? Getting tired of those endless Easter-themed specials on television?
I didn't think so.
Unlike Christmas, whose deeper spiritual meaning has been all but buried under an annual avalanche of commercialism, Easter has retained a stubborn hold on its identity as a religious holiday. This is all the more surprising when you consider what an opportune time it would be for marketers to convince us to buy more stuff. Typically arriving around the beginning of spring, Easter would be the perfect time for department stores to euchre customers into buying carloads of kids' outdoor toys, warm-weather clothes, and summertime sporting equipment."
"So what enables Easter to maintain its religious purity and not devolve into the consumerist nightmare that is Christmas? Well, for one thing, it's hard to make a palatable consumerist holiday out of Easter when its back story is, at least in part, so gruesome. Christmas is cuddly. Easter, despite the bunnies, is not."
"On the other hand, a card bearing the image of a near-naked man being stripped, beaten, tortured, and nailed through his hands and feet onto a wooden crucifix is a markedly less pleasant piece of mail."
"The Easter story is relentlessly disconcerting and, in a way, is the antithesis of the Christmas story. No matter how much you try to water down its particulars, Easter retains some of the shock it had for those who first participated in the events during the first century. The man who spent the final three years of his life preaching a message of love and forgiveness (and, along the way, healing the sick and raising the dead) is betrayed by one of his closest friends, turned over to the representatives of a brutal occupying power, and is tortured, mocked, and executed in the manner that Rome reserved for the worst of its criminals."
"Easter is an event that demands a "yes" or a "no." There is no "whatever."