As you know Christmas is the beginning of the story of which Easter is the climax. It’s a story which is part of an even bigger story that runs from Genesis through Judgement Day into eternity.

In the northern hemisphere (where 90% of humans live), Christmas is the crown of winter and Easter is part and parcel of spring.

Of the two, holding a festival in the dead midwinter is more vital for our emotional well-being. In the depression and gloom of December, the advent of lights and food and family gathering meet a real psychological need. Imagine getting from October to March with only the anticlimax of New Year to tide you over.

Swap?

In that sense it seems slapdash that the most significant part of the story is celebrated at the less critical time. If only the light-in-darkness spectacle of mid-winter revelry was teamed up with the power of the Easter story, what a festival we would have!

What if we put Easter in December? The charm and excitement of snowmen, lights-in-trees and roaring fires would be married with the celebration of an event with enough passion, meaning and achievement to give more than ample reason for all the merriment.

On an aesthetic level, it would make much more sense to swap these two great festivals and celebrate the Nativity in spring and Jesus’ death and resurrection in winter.

Spring, the time of new life and celebration, would handle Jesus’ birth very well. Likewise midwinter, combining the Caravaggio-esque drama of darkness with the coming hope of new light, would suit the Paschal story better.

Reality

But, Christmas is firmly rooted in the northern psyche in December, and there it will stay. The reality is, you could never persuade the whole world to swap them over. It’s hard enough persuading the world to recycle.

Of course, Easter is nailed to springtime by the timing of Passover. So really they’re both where they should be.

After all, it does seem right for the story that begins the New Testament to be celebrated at the turn of the New Year. A 3 month, rather than a 9 month gap between the two festivals does help in remembering they are part of the same stranger-than-fiction story.

And it makes sense, at least in Britain, for Christmas to come first and Easter to come along after in the seasonal glory of lambs and daffodils and sunshine.

Advertisements