FACE TO FACE: Should Canada formally recognize Easter's Christian roots?
Easter is the Easter Bunny. It is gnawing the ears off a chocolate rabbit. It is, perhaps, brunch and, maybe, a big ham for family dinner. It's a time to see Grandma and Grandpa. It's a well-deserved statutory long weekend, a harbinger of spring to us all. That is what Easter is for all Canadians.
For some Canadians, however, it means much more.
The origin of Easter will remain paramount to Christians this weekend. My devout and earnest debating partner is understandably conflicted about how we Canadians should celebrate this holy day. He wishes Canada could officially recognize the anniversary of Christ's death and resurrection, yet he knows it is inappropriate for our government to do so.
He is concerned that the Christian side of Easter and Christmas might soon be lost in commercial merriment, egg nog and chocolate candy, yet he is resigned to the fact that Church and State must remain separate. He knows that historically, theocracies have been corrupt, cruel and unsuccessful.
There are not only Canadians of non-Christian faiths but, also, a growing number of non-religious Canadians. Older atheists have lived through chanting the Lord's Prayer each day in school, after the Bible reading, singing "God keep our land, glorious and free" and having coaches suggest a pre- game prayer for the entire team.
This is not an indictment of Christian Canadians but, rather, a reminder of what happens when we assume we all hold a common belief: We offend each other. Most non-Christians have long embraced religious holidays and Christian Canadians are thankfully coming to understand that religion is for our homes and places of worship. This separation makes both our churches and our government stronger.
Ironically, the truce about which my colleague feels uneasy is precisely what allows Canadians to share in celebrating Christian holidays. Santa Claus, the elves, Rudolph and the Easter bunny allow Christian and non-Christian Canadians to enjoy the secular mythology of the holiday without arguing about the religious mythology.
So all Canadians, including our government officials, can rest this weekend, and enjoy the secular trappings of Easter. My colleague, with other Christian Canadian brethren, can also celebrate the special, religious significance that Easter holds for them.
God bless us all. Oh... wait...
Face to Face columnist Jim Nelson is a retired Tri-City teacher and principal who lives in Port Moody. He has contributed a number of columns on education-related issues to The Tri-City News.