Christmas is the biggest commercial festival of the year, and although Easter comes some way behind in terms of turnover, it is arguably the second biggest fixture on the calendar, ahead of Hogmanay and New Year, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Guy Fawkes Night.
Let’s not beat about the bush. These occasions are all money-spinners. Annual events now offer commercial opportunities which were never dreamed of before. Hallowe’en, for instance, has turned into a multi-million pound industry in recent years.
And of course, they are all to be enjoyed, especially by children, but by adults as well. Christmas and Easter in particular are times that bring families together, perhaps the only two occasions in a year that such gatherings will take place, save for a wedding or a funeral.
They have something else in common as well, lest we forget. The stories of Christmas and Easter are about the birth and death of Christ.
In an increasingly secular society, it is inevitable that the two events are symbolised instead by the giving and receiving of gifts and chocolate eggs (or the consuming of these items). But the desire to remove the religious connection from these celebrations is to be regretted. Those with Christian faith should be allowed to mark the occasions appropriately, just as those without faith can still enjoy Christmas and Easter without going near a church. Greetings cards and egg hunts which celebrate chocolate but make no mention of the word Easter raise the question: what is the point? What would the world gain by dropping the word “Christmas”?
As we report today, concerns have been raised about school pupils in Scotland not being taught the realities of Christ’s death on the cross. That is understandable. It is a brutal story, and the graphic detail is harrowing at any age. Careful consideration is required.
But to airbrush “Easter” from our lives entirely is a mistake. It is, and should be, a time we can all choose to mark in our own way, hopefully in peace. Remove its name, and we remove its common purpose.