Tag Archives: church

Sunday Significance

Sunday

Hello, and happy Sunday to you!  I hope that you’ve had a nice lie-in after staying up to watch the football.  Or a nice lie-in after not staying up to watch the football, because you’re not really bothered about the World Cup, which is perfectly ok.  Basically, I hope you’ve had a nice lie-in.  Unless you’re meant to be at work, in which case I hope you got up on time…this has gotten out of hand.  Let’s carry on.

Sunday is a strange one, because traditionally it has been a day of rest and reverence for millions of years.  (I may be exaggerating the time frame slightly here, but I quite like the idea of dinosaurs going to church, for some reason.)  My many siblings and I were taken to Mass every single Sunday of our childhood, and it was the same routine every week, including the vague effort to dress smartly (“You can’t wear trainers to church.”  “But they’re clean!”  “Jesus wouldn’t wear trainers.”  “No, Jesus would wear flip-flops!!”).

These days, Sundays can involve anything.  As students we used Sundays for recovery, for pub lunches, last-minute essay-writing and part-time jobs.  As graduates Sundays became opportunities to catch up on favourite television shows, quality time with friends and loved ones or just another work day.  To be honest, as an adult my main identifier of Sundays is that I always need something from the supermarket at 5.05 pm, by which point I may as well be in the Arctic for all the shops that are available.  My, how things have changed.

In honour of the original idea behind Sunday (i.e., the Sabbath/a rest day), I would like us all to take it easy and just share a few bits of interesting and Sunday-related information.

  • The Monkees’ 1967 hit Pleasant Valley Sunday was co-written by then-married Gerry Goffin and Carole King (this is a few years before King became famous on her own), and it was supposedly inspired by the road they lived on at the time.  That must have been super awkward when the neighbours heard the lyrics.
  • The most expensive sundae in the world costs $1,000 and has to be ordered 2 days in advance.  Yes, really.  It’s this one here.
  • The actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers likes to clean his house on a Sunday morning.
  • Billie Holliday’s 1941 cover of the “Hungarian Suicide Song” Gloomy Sunday was banned because apparently it was bad for war morale.  Instrumental versions were still allowed, though.
  • Michael J Fox once said “I’m going to marry a Jewish woman, because I like the idea of getting up Sunday morning and going to the deli.”  He did, too.

Whatever you’re up to, have a brilliant Sunday.  See you tomorrow.

Happy Egg and Controversial Rabbit Day!

easter-bunny-2

Hello and a very Happy Easter to you!

When I was a child my parents were extremely strict about observing the Catholic faith.  Nowadays my siblings and I don’t so much observe it as comment absent-mindedly when we catch a glimpse of it, but it hasn’t always been that way.

I am grateful for the thorough religious education my parents gave me, although I must confess that I absolutely hated it at the time, and that a lot of it made no sense to me.  With the exception of a few small things, I think I’ve grown out of my aversion to and confusion over Christianity.

What are these few small things?  Oh, nothing, just, you know…Easter.  I’m sorry, I know lots of people love it, and I don’t hate it or anything; I just don’t understand it.  We have a rabbit delivering eggs – not even real eggs, but eggs made of some fancy Aztec concoction called “chocolate” – to small children.  Let me try to disentangle this ridiculous chain of tradition:

  • Sometime between 33 and 39 AD: Jesus and the disciples are celebrating the Jewish festival Passover when Jesus decides to turn the whole shindig into the Last Supper.  He is crucified, resurrected three days later and has fun for a while reappearing and scaring the crap out of his mournful disciples.  At the same sort of time Pliny, Plutarch and that whole ancient intellectuals gang are going around thinking that hares are hermaphrodites, and can therefore have babies without losing their virginity.
  • Sometime between 100 and 200 AD: Earliest Christians are recorded as celebrating Easter the same way as Jewish holidays are celebrated, i.e. based on a lunisolar calendar.  This makes sense, since a lot of early Christians were converts from Judaism.  Oh, also, Mesopotamians start staining chicken eggs red to symbolise the blood shed by Jesus at the Crucifixion.
  • 325 AD: First Council of Nicaea (i.e. a party of head honcho-type bishops) decide that Easter will always fall on the first Sunday after the full moon following the March Equinox.  Good for them.
  • Sometime between 500 and 1500 AD: Plutarch and his gang’s belief that hares could reproduce without loss of virginity has led to hares being associated with the Virgin Mary, and so images of hares sometimes show up in illuminated manuscripts.  There is also an argument that hares and rabbits are a symbol of fertility pre-dating Christian times, which is why they get a look in on this festival, but I prefer the idea of Plutarch and that lot having their crazy theories accidentally adopted into lore.
  • 1610 AD: Pope Paul V officially adopts the Mesopotamians’ egg-staining thing, making eggs a Christian symbol of the resurrection.  Didn’t he have better (or less weird) things to do in his papal capacity?!
  • Sometime during the 18th century: German immigrants in Dutch Pennsylvania tell their American hosts about the “Osterhase”, a hare which brings those traditional (by now) coloured eggs to good children at Easter.  Some regions of Germany also had an Easter Fox (“Osterfuchs”) for the same job.  The Americans pick it up and run with it.
  • Modern day: Despite the traditional coloured eggs being perfectly edible, we live in a world where things made of chocolate are infinitely superior to all others.  Hence: Easter stuff is made of chocolate.

I hope that you enjoyed your crash course in Easter history, and that you have a brilliant time eating your Osterhase (or Osterfuchs) goodies.