On Easter Sunday, I walked into noon mass at 11:59 a.m. Where usually there would be room to sit, I could barely find a place to stand. Because it was Easter, the Church was bursting at the seams with twice-a-year churchgoers. Did they really feel the need to repent and give praise to Jesus, or is Easter Sunday mass simply another socialized Christian tradition?
Women at the office where I work were complaining on Friday afternoon, “I have so much to do to prepare for Sunday.”
In true Catholic school girl spirit, I naively answered, “Oh I didn’t know you were Christian.” They had a hectic Saturday planned of dying eggs, getting their kids’ pictures taken with the Easter Bunny and buying their new “Sunday best.”
They would whip out dollar bills imprinted with “In God We Trust” flagging across the one side and tell their snotty-nosed four-year old “God bless you” when he sneezed, yet not even pay attention to the words coming out of their mouths.
Earlier that day, a company appointment was scheduled for August 13 – a Friday. “Ohhhhh, Friday the 13th,” the girls said, thinking that this day is frightening because of the unlucky stigma of when the calendar crosses the number 13 and a Friday. The tradition roots from 13 people being at the last supper (the 12 disciples and Jesus) and Friday being Jesus’ day of Crucifixion. Not to preach, but it is fascinating how schools will ban prayer but then sing “God bless America.”
Think of swearing on the Bible in courtrooms. Or how Irish and non-Irish alike throw back some brews at their local pub every March 17 in honor of Saint Patrick.
The real Saint Patrick was a Bishop in Ireland who probably wasn’t found drunk at the corner bar every March. It is a tradition on February 14 to give cards and candy and throw around the words “I love you,” but if it weren’t for Saint Valentine marrying Christian couples in a time where marriages were banned, “Valentine’s Day” would not exist.
Even though I was raised Catholic, I can see a non-religious person’s need to celebrate traditionally Christian holidays. Gift giving, dying eggs and drinking green beer is fun.
I’m sure God’s name appearing in early American documents, anthems and money stems from our Christian forefathers. But as time goes on, these holidays, phrases and motions are becoming less about God and more about the spirit of tradition.
If people having fun, spending time with friends and family, and helping the American economy isn’t in good, even possibly “Christian,” spirit, I don’t know what is.
Rachael Summers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.