Although the most important holiday for the Christian religion, celebrating its central figure's alleged return from the grave, Easter derives its name from a pagan goddess named Éostre. The concept of a new beginning and life's triumph over death are represented in the symbols of eggs and the notoriously fertile rabbit.
Whether one is a believer, or an unbeliever like myself, there is something to be celebrated at Easter time.
Some of my atheist friends act a little embarrassed by religious holidays and try to distance themselves, for instance renaming Christmas as Newtonmas (since December 25th was Isaac Newton's birthday.) To me this has always seemed kind of silly. Christmas and Easter, while specifically Christian holidays, are also about the celebration of things which are not limited to one form of belief, but are, in fact, universal. Christmas is a celebration of love, community and generosity. And Easter is a celebration of life's persistence and of fertility.
In recent times we've seen some terrible natural disasters as well as man-made conflicts troubling various parts of the world. The wonderful thing about life in general and humans in particular is that such things do not defeat us. In the wake of each disaster, the survivors reestablish their communities, homes are rebuilt, babies are born and life goes on. For me, this is what Easter celebrates. Death doesn't win.
But also it celebrates fertility. This is not just biological fertility. If I wished fertility on you, many of you would probably scream, "No, that's the last thing I need!" But fertility is not just about producing babies. It is about the fecundity of the soil in which we plant a seed, be that seed an idea, a monetary investment or a literal seed that we plant in our garden. To toast fertility is to wish that those seeds bare fruit. Unless they are vegetable seeds, in which case it would just be weird for them to bare fruit.
One need not believe in Heaven or Hell to believe that life is not limited to our physical bodies, finite as they are in time and space. Our deeds and our ideas sow seeds which can have a life of their own, bearing fruit in places we will never visit and also long after we cease to exist as individuals.
The internet is the perfect example of this. The inventors of Facebook, Twitter or Google could die tomorrow, but that which they created would continue to have a life of its own, providing a conduit for social interactions the outcome of which noone can possibly predict.
Recently I've been taking part in the Twitterotica challenges created by Ruby Kiddell and Aisling Weaver. Here is another example of seeds which bare fruit. A seed word is sown over Twitter and lands in the fertile minds of sundry degenerates who set to work to create some prime filth. Nobody could predict the fruity tales of debauchery they produce. These in turn are disseminated over the net where they themselves perhaps inspire much stiffness and wetness of generative organs. And what happens after that is anybody's guess. But the point is that a simple idea in one person's mind ended up effecting the lives of many in ways that they will never fully know.
So what can make us more fertile in this broader sense? Well, just as the fertility of a woman is unlikely to bare fruit if she doesn't open her legs, so an open mind is most conducive to the success of productive endeavours of all kinds. And nothing stands in the way of such success like a closed mind. The most wonderful of creations are those which could never have been predicted. And the belief that we can predict the future closes us off to the seeds of such creations. Few of us would claim to be psychic, but we think we can predict the future when we say such things as : "I'll never get that job promotion!" ; "No member of the opposite sex could find me attractive!" ; or "All my problems will be solved when I win the lottery!" It is welcoming the unknowability of the future with open arms and following ideas to see what they lead to, rather than presupposing that they are worthless, which allows us to make the most of life's creative principle.
But let us also not forget that Easter is a time for perving at scantily clad girls in bunny ears and eating lots of chocolate!
Also not a bad time for catching up with a movie or two or some reading. Here are some suggestions :
The Religious Aspects of the Holiday
Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)
Ted Neeley makes for a whiny, annoying Christ, but it is all about Carl Anderson's dynamic Judas, Yvonne Elliman singing "I Don't Know How to Love Him", and Josh Mostel in his bathing trunks asking Jesus to walk across his swimming pool. Andrew Lloyd Webber's finest moment if you ask me.
The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)
Who would have guessed that a movie by an atheistic communist homosexual would come in at number two on Pope John Paul II's recommended movies list. A starkly beautiful film in the Italian neo-realist style. A counterpoint to Pasolini's last film Salo, the watching of which is a bit like being crucified.
One of my all-time favourites, this has it all. A crucifixion scene which can even ring tears from a devoted heathen such as myself, the splendiferous spectacle of the naval battle and chariot scenes, and lashings of homo-erotic chest-baring and muscle flexing.
Life of Brian (1979)
Look on the bright side of life with a comic masterpiece which, contrary to the views of some of its critics, is not disrespectful to Jesus or his believers, poking fun, instead, at those who are less discriminate in their faith-placing as well as at bureaucracies and misguided forms of rebellion.
Chocolate as a source of romance and eroticism. A charming film from the director of Abba : The Movie.
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)
Tim Burton is a genius, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was not his finest moment. Go back to the original film starring Gene Wilder. And it has a classic song in "The Candy Man".
Films don't come any funnier or more charming than this tale in which Jimmy Stewart's relationship with an imaginary giant rabbit causes consternation to all around him.
The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (1979)
Everybody's favourite rabbit - trickster, anarchist and inveterate cross-dresser. There's no-one like Bugs and this movie was a showcase for some of his funniest cartoons.
Night of the Lepus (1972)
If you are truly perverse (and if you're not, what are you doing on my blog?), you'll want to check out this mind-numbing horror misfire, supposedly based on a novel called The Year of the Angry Rabbit by distinguished Aussie author Russell Braddon. It's all about giant mutant bunny rabbits that eat people! The original title of the movie was going to be Rabbits, but they were afraid people wouldn't take a horror movie with that name seriously. Needless to say, they still didn't take it seriously.
Lavender and Chocolate by Dalide (Lady Laid Bare)
Read this mouthwatering story and then break out the chocolate bodypaint with your partner!
Hot Cross Buns
Emily Winters and Tender-Bottomed Girl always have buns which are hot and cross from having received the spankings that naughty girls such as themselves so richly deserve. So why not go sample the sweetness of their just desserts?
My Favourite Easter Bunny
Rosie, model and photographer for Girls Out West.