Life's journeys: Language, culture, communication

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The orthodox Easter and the mainstream Bunny

Life is full of strange moments.

The absurdity of life becomes implacably apparent when you try to explain it to small children.

We are part of a minority which celebrates Easter according to the Orthodox tradition, at a later date than our Catholic brethren. I know the “technical” explanation why that is so, but how do you split the Spirit?… And how do you convey that to a 5-year-old who pities Christ from the bottom of his little heart for being crucified (twice!), but also has more pressing mundane worries:

My son (two weeks ago): Yeeeah, the Easter bunny is coming next Sunday! Conny told us!

(Conny being his kindergarten teacher, his person of authority).

Me: Ummm, you see, we are Orthodox, to us the Easter bunny comes later this year. It comes first to the Germans, then to us.

His jaw drops in confusion. Muses for a while.

His next input: I have thought about it, and from now on we speak German at home. I am German, too.

Me: Oh, honey, I meant the Catholics. It comes first to the Catholics, and then to us. But you see, Easter is not just about receiving presents. The biggest gift of all…. (here he yawns and turns to his toys)… is that Christ rose from the dead, he defeated death for us so that we can all live eternal lives.

What does it mean, eternal?

It means forever.

Why did they kill him? (he remembers this from an earlier discussion).

Well, I guess they were jealous.

Why were they jealous?

Well, because people liked him more, because he was good to people, and the other ones were afraid they were going to lose their power. (Power over people, this he understands.)

Hmmm, so when does the Easter bunny come to us?

In two weeks’ time.

Nooo! But then he won’t have anymore toys left for me! Here he shoots me a glance that says, I resent my religion.

Me, hurrying to find a solution: But I’ll bet the bunny saves the best for last. In fact, I’m sure he does.

And before I know it, I have launched into an elaborate story about a mountain of presents, and how the best ones always fall to the bottom, and how the bunny is too frail to carry all those gifts to all those people on one day, so he separates Catholics from the rest, and please don’t lose any sleep over this, if you are good, he knows you. Yes, he does know your name and address, in fact I am going to go meet him and remind him.

And yes, I did prepare a little nest, just in case. And I did put in some Gummibärchen for our fluffy friend, just in case. And what do you know, the bunny did leave him something too, as a little foretaste for our celebration next week, because the bunny knows how all the other kids will flaunt their presents on the first day of kindergarten after Ostermontag…

So now I have my family peace again. But it’s a costly affair (and not just in terms of money, either). Will I be able to keep it up every year? So please please please, if there’s anybody out there who can do anything about this, please unite the holidays. 🙂

Gotta go boil those eggs now. We’ll be painting them later in the afternoon. Our time has finally come.

Happy Easter, folks! Hristos a înviat! Christus ist auferstanden! Christ is risen!

That’s the most important thing. Imagine how absurd life would be without that…


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