There are a multitude of things I find deplorable about the major religions of the world, and because I often attempt to point out those sort of things people sometimes assume that I detest every single thing from religion. I’m reminded of this because Easter is approaching and it calls to mind a conversation I had with my mom a few years ago. Around that time, I was becoming more vocal about being an atheist and had told her I was writing a blog related to atheism. She considers herself a Christian but isn’t too hardcore about it (check out this older post, https://atheistnerdgirl.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/christian-mother/) and has never really had a problem with me and my brother being atheists. I’m really grateful for that because sometimes parents aren’t so understanding about their children not embracing their religion. I know people who have family that are very upset with them for their non-belief and people who are afraid to tell their family they don’t believe.
So with as understanding my mom has been, I was shocked a few weeks before Easter when I was spending time with her and she asked me, “You don’t want to do anything for Easter do you?”
I laughed and answered, “Why would you ask me that? I want to do something for Easter.”
She told me she only thought to ask because of the militant atheist thing, that I might not want to celebrate Easter anymore because of it. I understood where she was coming from but that sort of thing hadn’t crossed my mind before she mentioned it. We started going to church less and less in my teens until we eventually stopped going and my parents explained to us that they could just believe in their own way instead of having to be a part of a church. There were some points where we would try to go for the holiday services at least but my parents eventually gave up on that too. The religious aspects of Christmas and Easter were never a big focus in our household, the things I enjoyed about them like spending time with loved ones and having a big traditional holiday meal don’t need an ounce of religiosity. Having gatherings around the winter solstice and the start of spring were never exclusive to Christianity and were done by various cultures far before them. I also think it’s pretty common knowledge by now that bunnies and eggs have nothing to do with the bible and were passed down from pagan traditions. I explained all this to her and reiterated that I want to do something for Easter, not believing in Jesus wasn’t going to stop me from enjoying a ham dinner and a bunch of candy with my family.
I find something beautiful about the fact that humans have been taking a moment around the start of every spring to gather and celebrate together since the beginning of civilization. Traditions and beliefs centered around this time of the year have varied and changed a lot, but I just find that to be another wonderful aspect of it. People often act like traditions and beliefs are set in stone and not to be questioned, one of the fathers of sociology, Emile Durkheim would have referred to this as “the sacred”. But I think when we look at the grander scale of humanity and how much traditions and beliefs have changed and varied, it’s easier to see the traditions and beliefs of one’s own culture as not so set in stone. As we form our own beliefs, we can form our own traditions.
So back to what I said at the start of this, of course there are some good aspects of religion. Holidays are a great example of that, but I think we can do without having to believe in myths to enjoy them. Personally I look at Easter as a time to take a moment to appreciate the beautiful world around me and an excuse to eat a lot with my loved ones. I also like to watch Life of Brian every Easter, there’s far less Easter movies than Christmas movies, but I consider it to be the best movies for the holiday. I may even dye some eggs this year.