[The American Years]

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Need a Holiday? Have I got a deal for you...

I've got an extra one coming in this week, and I need the space...

Good news about having Easter so early: (At least for a place with mildish seasons) Easter following so closely the first day of spring gives nature an added voice in the joy that is Easter. When Easter comes in mid to late April, things are already in bloom here, and smiles are on faces and you've already taken your first bike ride of the spring, etc.
I may take my first bike ride of this season on Easter Sunday itself. I might just go ride by some friends' houses and throw eggs at them, just for the joy of the season.
It would be a lovely coincidence if it were going to be perfect weather this weekend. Instead, "Mostly Cloudy, 47F" will have to do. A weekend that isn't rainy or snowy or cold feels like a gift.

Bad news about having Easter so early: it's right on top of St Patrick's Day. Sure, having our nation's 3rd most drunken day of the year (1st Place: New Year's Eve, 2nd Place: The Day after Election Day) during Holy Week can be difficult for people who are as devoted to the solemnity of Holy Week as they are to St. Guinness. (See also: Irish Catholic.) But for our house (where St Patty's just means we drink a little beer instead of a little wine) the difficulty becomes the decorations.

It's like having Halloween during the same week as July 4th. We don't know whether to hunt for eggs or 4-leaf clovers. And I've noticed that Reese's (whose holiday PB Cup shapes beguile me) hasn't made a peanut butter cup in the shape of a Shamrock, or a pot of gold, or Teddy Kennedy. Nope, they had PB Eggs on the shelf right after the delicious PB Valentine's hearts were taken down. They didn't even try.

I had a Japanese colleague ask me why Easter was so early this year. Very astute question, given that this is the guy's third Easter in the US, maybe, and it's not really a holiday in that there is no time off from work per se.

It's also a much easier question to answer than "What's Easter?" I guess the answer could just be "Christian Holiday", and that would suffice. How to justify the external trappings of Easter given the religious meaning... a bit tough.

As I've stated before, the Japanese have glommed onto Christmas in all its external trappings, paying no heed to the religious aspect. And they get along just fine. Big fat dude in red suit, check. Big lit-up tree, check. Gifts, check. Basically indistinguishable from ours here in the states.
They throw fireworks in the mix on Christmas Eve, and you can forget going to KFC for lunch on Christmas Eve as well. They've only got pre ordered meals.

Back to topic. I could actually answer the man about why Easter is so early. (And it was a man. Shocking that a Japanese mid-management engineer was a man not a woman? When I worked in Japan, the engineering office had a male to female ratio slightly higher than most prisons I've been in.)

Easter is early because it follows the lunar calendar (sort of). Easter is on the first Sunday after the first full moon that follows the Spring Equinox. It's a nod to the Jewish people and their use of the lunar calendar. (Yet their new year is not the same as the Chinese... go figure.)

This year, 2008, the vernal equinox was March 20 (look it up). Full moon right after that on Friday March 21. Easter on March 23.

Looking forward to 2011, Vernal Equinox on Mar 20. Next full moon is nearly a month later on Monday April 18, so Easter will be super late, on April 24.

Now you know.

Still you don't care.

1 comment:

califmom said...

I care. Really I care. I just want to know Christians can't pick a calendar and stick with it. Lunar. Solar. Something. I'm a planner. A procrastinating planner, but a planner. Plus we now have the super early Spring Break out here in the Land Without Snow, which means, many more weeks of school sans break are to follow. Ugh!