Sunday, March 31, 2013

My Non-Religious Easter Wishes

My intent for today's blog isn't to offend or upset anyone.  Although, I'll bet a package of Cadbury's Caramel Eggs that I've already offended or upset someone with the title of this post.  I just know that someone has scrolled through their blog roll or seen my blog on Facebook and said to themselves "how on earth can she send non-religious Easter wishes?  That's just not right!"

Hold your horses offended people.

If you have read my blog for any amount of time, you know that one of the subjects I avoid like the plague is discussing religion.  Not because I'm ashamed of my personal beliefs - but because I appreciate and respect the opinions of others.  I don't feel like my beliefs are any more superior or right or legitimate than anybody else.  In fact, the only time I do touch on religion is when I'm expressing my acceptance of others.  You probably won't see me share my own beliefs.

Easter has many different meanings to many different people.

Some are celebrating the rising of Christ from the dead.  Others are celebrating fertility and the coming of Spring.  And many are celebrating by combining the two.

Myself and my family will be gathering at my parent's house this afternoon to hunt for Easter eggs, eat a large meal, and enjoy the company of loved ones.

Being in a family that has many different religious beliefs, or none whatsoever, causes and produces a person like me.  A person who is both fascinated and accepting of all religious beliefs and traditions.  I've been this way my entire life.

I grew up in an area that had a large Hindu and Muslim population.  I had many friends that were Hindu and friends that were Muslim.  I was able to witness and take part in many of their holidays and traditions.  I attended a school that observed Christian, Muslim, and Hindu holy days - because there was no minority of the three.  You either celebrated all or none, and the schools stand was to celebrate all.  The Muslim and Hindu children participated in Christmas and Easter activities at school - just as the Christian children participated in Diwali and Ramadan celebrations and customs.  It promoted an environment of acceptance - and parents knew that complaining or pulling their kids away from the activities would lead to no observation of the holidays at all.  And no one wanted that.  In addition to the customs of the children that attended, we also took part in learning other customs and traditions: Chinese New Year, Passover, Guru Nanak's birthday (Sikh).

When Christian holidays were taught in my school, there was the discussion of Pagan traditions and roots.  Mainly because I attended school in England - basically the birth place of the Pagan culture.

Inside my home I was raised by two parents that had religious backgrounds - one a Catholic and the other a Protestant.  Although neither was forced upon me.  My parents didn't attend church regularly because of their own opinions and beliefs in the faiths that they grew up with.  I attended church occasionally with my grandmother, and I attended a Catholic preschool.  That's about the sum up of my religious upbringing.

Growing up, and after moving to America, I discovered a huge difference in the way holidays were discussed and celebrated.  Not so much in the way they were celebrated, more as accepted.  I moved to a small town that was basically 100% Christian.  Maybe a small percentage of Catholics.  There were no Muslim children or Hindus...and I don't ever recollect seeing a Jewish person in my town.  So, it was customary that only Christian holidays were observed.

And then, I shared my stories of Pagan roots to Christian holidays one time during a class discussion - and I was just sure they were going to tie me up, drag me to the closest tree, and hang me for blasphemy.

But, when someone asked why Easter was celebrated with eggs and bunnies - I was able to answer that question.  I was able to explain that Pagans celebrate the beginning of spring as the time of fertility.  Flowers begin to bloom again, animals start to bear young, etc.  The Pagan people celebrated with the representations of fertility:  Eggs (women's fertility) and bunnies (the most fertile animal on the planet).  Of course, in my completely Christian town, talk like that was black listed - and I was to never speak of it again.

I attended Christian church regularly with friends.  I was a devout Christian all through my teen years and in to my early twenties.  I attended every and all church functions and classes and Bible studies.  But the sad truth is I did all of that not because it was what I truly wanted - but more because of the fact that it was expected of me.  It took a while (and some growing up) to sort out what I believed and how I wanted to proceed with my religious future - doing it for myself and not because others expected me to.

Thankfully, I never lost my appreciation or fascination with culture as a whole.  Nor did I ever lose my acceptance and appreciation for how different cultures are represented and celebrate different Holy Days.  In my family, holidays are more symbolized with spending time with each other, being thankful for the blessings that have been put in to my life, and appreciating that - for the most part - I am free to believe however I please and no one (in my family) is going to disagree or hate or degrade me.

So, on this day, I wish you blessings.  I hope that you are able to enjoy this day celebrating whatever customs you and your family use.  If you don't celebrate Easter, then I wish upon you a great day anyway.

I send to you my utmost non-religious Easter wishes of health, happiness, and enjoyment.  Spring is here... life is starting over... the dead has been risen.  And regardless of what you believe in any of those statements... I appreciate and accept your feelings with love and respect.

Happy Easter, Everyone!


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