Our Culture Loves Christmas
Why is it that Easter can’t match the cultural and commercial success of Christmas? After all, for a majority Christian nation, if there is no Easter than Christmas is simply a Hallmark holiday. One would think that the salvation of the world, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, would certainly outshine the story of his birth to an unwed teenage mother in a barn.
Yet, for most of us, Christmas is planned out and over prepared. While Easter sneaks up on us. You never see a count-down to next Easter, the day after this Easter. Some of us don’t even realize that it’s Easter, until we go to church and there are palm branches everywhere. What is it about us and Easter, that makes such a big day seem so insignificant?
Well, first Christmas has the whole baby thing going for it. We’re all suckers for a baby. Buying presents, making funny faces and saying gibberish things. Babies are about fresh starts and new beginnings. Something that appeals to the very core of who we are.
Easter is about a gruesome murder and the resurrection from the dead. Yes, many of us love a good zombie series, but the Easter story is definitely rated “R”. Yet, like Christmas, Easter is also about fresh starts and new beginnings. Which is something that appeals to the very core of who we are.
Christmas has the whole presents under the tree thing going for it. Who doesn’t love receiving presents? And, once you realize how great it is, who doesn’t love giving presents? The Wise Men started the tradition long ago and we have made it into a booming economic gold mine.
Easter has chocolate crosses, bunnies and colorful eggs that we hide around the house. Not bad, but in comparison to Christmas, falls far short on the booming economic gold mine scale. If there were only Wise Men who came to the empty tomb bearing gifts so that we could all shop more at this time of the year.
Christmas benefits from where it falls on the calendar. Falling one week before the New Year allows all of us to take the entire week off from reality and to celebrate life – what has been and what will be. Two major holidays in one week, right in the middle of winter – pure marketing genius.
Easter falls in the spring. With no other major holiday around. Now I realize that spring means new life and Easter means new life. Yet, let’s face it, we celebrate Easter on Sunday and everyone is back to work, back to life, on Monday. Yes, there may be ham leftovers the rest of the week, but for Easter it’s a once and done celebration.
Christmas conjures up visions of snow, fireplaces and family reunions. Easter conjures up visions of fancy clothes being covered up by winter jackets.
Christmas has cards and Hallmark movie specials. Easter has the Ten Commandments staring Charlton Heston.
Christmas has Christmas Eve and the arrival of Santa on his sleigh. Easter has Maundy Thursday and criminal justice issues.
Christmas has a baby in a manger with kindly farm animals and Wise Men all around. Easter has an empty tomb with angels and stories of resurrection that aren’t believed, even by some of the people who were supposed to believe.
Christmas has “Peace on earth and good will to all people”. Easter has “Today, you will be with me in paradise” and “It is finished”.
Christmas has the fulfillment of the prophecy of a baby being born to a virgin in Bethlehem. Easter has the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Messiah riding a donkey, that has never been ridden, down the Mount of Olives. The thirty pieces of silver paid to Judas for his betrayal. The piercing of Jesus’ hands and feet. The casting lots for Jesus’ clothing. Jesus dying before any of his bones were broken. The destruction of the temple and then rebuilding it in three days. And the swallowing up of death in victory. Just to name a few.
So, why is it that Easter can’t match the cultural or commercial success of Christmas? Because Easter is about what really matters, and none of that really matters. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I love the cultural and commercial success of Christmas. But I also love that the world cannot and is seemingly unwilling to make Easter a cultural and commercial success. I believe this is as God has designed it. The world will never be able to take over, corrupt or misconstrue the true meaning of Easter. Amen.