Wednesday, March 27, 2013

An Atheist Easter

The springtime holiday known as Easter is right around the corner. And I am frantically trying to get everything together for my daughters, which isn't too uncommon among parents of young children.

Why would an atheist parent celebrate a Christian holiday with their children? It seems silly at face value, but there are many reasons that freethinking families celebrate holidays that have religious undertones.

The first reason that comes to mind is tradition. I celebrated Easter as a child of Mormon parents. I got a dress, gloves, purse and hat (bonnet) for the occasion and after church, ran around the house and yard with my half brothers searching for Easter eggs.  I had so much fun and I know my children would love that tradition as well.  I still haven't heard an accurate argument as to what the bunny and eggs have to do with Christianity anyway.

The another reason, which may be the crappiest of all, is that all of their friends celebrate the holiday. I don't want to keep my children from experiencing commonly accepted events and fun.

I also want my children to have those little things in common with their classmates. They can talk about the eggs they found and the joy they had Easter morning. I want them to experience the culture that surrounds them.  I never want them to feel like they are missing out on something that is so easy for me to provide to them.

I am not Hispanic or Mexican, but I love celebrating Cinco de Mayo. I am not Irish, but every Saint Patrick's Day we have corned beef and cabbage and enjoy learning about the history of Saint Patrick and Ireland. Experiencing other people's cultures and learning history, whether it be religious or not, is enjoyable and healthy and wonderful.  What makes Easter any different?

It also gives me the opportunity to dig deeper into history to explain to them where the holiday actually stemmed from. My children have not heard the crucifixion story.  ::Gasp!:: Not that it should be a surprise to anyone, but that is a gruesome, horrible, tragic torture story that may not actually be historically accurate. I have not found any reason to tell my children a snuff story about anyone.

When I tell my children about Easter, we learn about Ostara, the goddess of fertility. We refer to the Easter bunny as a female. They know it's just an adult in a bunny suit at the mall, but we discuss how people used to believe that Ostara would sometimes take the physical form of a rabbit. We talk about how eggs are a symbol of fertility and how Earth is waking up, and how animals are giving birth and the flowers are blooming and how it all ties back into Mother Nature.  A little Pagan, yes. Better than the crucifixion story, hell yes.

I know one day I will have to go into more detail than that some people believe Jesus died and came back to life and that is what they celebrate for Easter.  That day just hasn't come yet.  Everyone talks about how innocence is lost so early and I refuse to contribute to numbing my children to torture.

A lot of people complain about how secular the holidays are becoming. But I think it's fitting. The non-believers are growing by leaps and bounds and the holidays are going to become more secular as time goes by.

So our Easter Ostara baskets will be filled with seeds, egg shaped candy, chocolate bunnies and random Spring themed toys, which I believe is comparable to what most children get in their baskets. It's a beautiful time of year and I am happy that I have something to celebrate with my children as an atheist parent.

1 comment:

Mae said...

I am also having the battle of holidays in an atheist home. This year I have decided not to celebrate Easter. Honestly, if I were to keep any religious holidays easter would probably be the one since it does have a non-christian meaning as well.
I didn't understand what you meant about St. Patrick's day being a great day to learn about St. Patrick though. We spent the day looking it up and learning about it... which was so annoying I finally x'd Easter. St. paddy's day is all about a british man living in ireland who converted a bunch of pegan's to christianity. There's nothing (other than christian bs) to go with it. I was wondering if there was more I hadn't researched about the day& would LOVE for you to share.

I'm not sure if we'll ever go back to celebrating those holidays... but at least I can have something else to talk about on those day!


Thanks and good luck with your journey!