Although the name ‘Easter’ is believed by many to be pagan in origin, the Christian celebration of it is not, being the celebration of the resurrection from death of Jesus Christ.
I once had an interesting conversation when we were setting up the first after school care scheme in East Sussex to run in the church I pastored. We had a visit from the council’s Inspection Unit, who would decide whether we could have their approval to run or not.
After I had shown her around, the lady and I sat at a table to talk. The conversation went something like the following.
“I am a little concerned that you do not give enough evidence that multiculturalism will be promoted, that the cultural diversity needs of the children will be properly catered for.”
I pretended I did not know what she meant and asked what she meant.
“I mean I see no evidence that the major festivals of other cultures will be promoted. There are no displays of symbols other faiths or information about them.”
Oh, I said, “Like what for instance?”
She then named a number of religious festivals.
I replied that as the building was also a place of Christian worship there would be some problems with promoting other faiths on the premises or displaying any symbols of other faiths.
“Tell me,” I said, “do you insist on this in all the other clubs and groups? that all the major faiths are represented and their various main festivals promoted?”
“Oh yes,” she said.
“Christian festivals too?”
“Great,” I said. “So are you telling me that in all the other child care facilities in the town they have to promote and teach about the main Christian festival? I don’t mean Christmas of course because that is not really Christian. No I mean the main Christian festival. Do they have to teach it and promote it?”
I smiled encouragingly at her. I could almost hear the cogs of her mind turning, knowing the she was desperately trying to figure out what the main Christian festival could be. I didn’t leave her to agonise for too long.
I said, “Easter I mean. Not rabbits or Easter eggs of course, I mean the real Easter, crucifixion, sacrifice, Jesus dying to pay for your sins and mine, Blood? Do you insist that they all have to teach about that as well as diwali, etc?”
I smile at her and she smiled at me. But she stiffened ever so slightly and the smile looked a little strained. She paused just a little.
“In the light of the fact that this building is a Christian place of worship I don’t think we will need to insist that you need to cover the other religious festivals” she said.
“Thank you,” I said.