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The "War on Easter" - MERGE


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This just popped up on MSNews: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/27/war-on-easter-outrages-fox-news-i-dont-remember-a-bunny-in-the-bible-story/

A school in Alabama cancelled all the Easter-themed events to be more inclusive of the other religions represented at the school. As predicted, FOX News anchors were outraged. A quote from viewer email:

In an email, a viewer named Carol told the Fox & Friends hosts that she didn’t understand why the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs were offensive because the words “Easter†and “bunny†do not appear in the Bible.

Pretty sure "Christmas" isn't in the Bible either. The comments on that link are actually not too headache-inducing; the MSN Now comments were worse.

Not coincidentally, the local paper runs a syndicated column by Tina Dupuy, and this week's was Why Isn't There a War on Easter?.

It seems to me (although I haven't spent hours thinking on it) that Easter is close to being as secularized as Christmas, at least in that you can sort of celebrate a religious Easter or a non-religious Easter, and both holidays have co-opted a lot of things from other religions/cultures.

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Can't we just have a bit of fun? For me as a kid, Easter was a day when we got up and found an Easter Basket from the Easter Bunny filled with candy. We watched "Here Comes Peter Cottontail" on TV and had an Easter Egg hunt. Sometimes other family members would come by for a family dinner.

We knew that Easter meant other things to other families, that some people we knew viewed it in a more religious way, but that was never a big issue. We didn't think they were weird because Easter was more of a religious holiday to them, and they didn't say anything about our more 'religion free' holiday.

I was raised to believe that you didn't pry into other people's views on religion, politics, or their salaries. We just knew that not everyone thought the same and if you insisted on something like that you were not going to get along with very many people.

Edited because I still can't spell 'weird'

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I think that school was pretty stupid/weird canceling the egg hunt because it promotes a religious (Christian) holiday. The only people against egg hunts would probably be the fundy Christians who say its a pagan celebration!

Easter exists, you can't just pretend it doesn't in school. God forbid they tell the kids why different people celebrate it and how people celebrate it. That does not equal proselytizing. Am I wrong? I don't feel threatened when my kids school gives a brief description of hannakuh and then they all make latkes. Isnt exposure to diff cultures/religions ok?

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I think that school was pretty stupid/weird canceling the egg hunt because it promotes a religious (Christian) holiday. The only people against egg hunts would probably be the fundy Christians who say its a pagan celebration!

Easter exists, you can't just pretend it doesn't in school. God forbid they tell the kids why different people celebrate it and how people celebrate it. That does not equal proselytizing. Am I wrong? I don't feel threatened when my kids school gives a brief description of hannakuh and then they all make latkes. Isnt exposure to diff cultures/religions ok?

Yeah, but if you're christian, you're on the privileged end of the equation in this US.

Look at it this way: everyone in the US knows what Easter is, how it's celebrated and it's considered abnormal not to celebrate it in some way. You don't need to teach children about Easter (Christmas, etc.), it's everywhere.

Hannukah, el Eid, Ramadan, Passover, etc. are virtually unknown in the US, taught as curiosities and afterthoughts to the proper, Christian way of doing things.

So of course you don't feel threatened when Hannukah is presented as a quaint little custom involving pancakes made out of potatoes, you're 75% of the population.

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Yes that makes sense. I'm just wondering what are schools to do? Completely ignoring holidays seems like an overreaction.

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Easter has plenty of secularized trappings now, but it's still a religious holiday and I don't think they need to theme activities in school around it. Will it creep in via the kids? Sure. But if they go all out having kids make egg decorations in art class and talk about what they want for Easter and how they're going to gorge on chocolate, it will leave some kids out because that stuff definitely doesn't happen in all houses.

It would be different if they similarly made a big deal about Passover and kids excited about what gift or money they're gonna get for ransoming the afikomen and let the other kids feel left out once in a while, but... they don't.

You can have pastel themed things and flowers and spring and even chicks without making it all about Easter, at least in the official lesson plans.

But saying that the bunny and eggs have nothing to do with Easter? That's just plain disingenuous. They're the secular trappings OF a religious holiday, you don't see those things (bunnies on everything with baskets, and dyed eggs) after the specific Sunday is over with, and you don't see it in places that don't also have people celebrating religious Easter.

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I like having Spring and Winter break as a way - however unintended - of de-commercializing the two major Christian holy days/seasons.

Unintended and pretty futile, as 3 of every 5 adverts I hear or view over the past four weeks have been for Easter sales, Easter bunny candy, Easter egg dishes, Easter shoes, Easter bonnets, Easter parties, Easter foods, Easter specials.

The Juniors mock me when I refer to the day as "the feast of the Resurrection" but hey, they mock me hour-by-hour if not minute-by-minute. My shoulders are broad.

Back on-topic, as far as some calling the replacement of "spring" for "Easter" in the ebil gubmint skools, I'm all for it.

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I wondered why this school would be having an Easter Egg hunt. My kids go to a neighboring school (but different district) and they never did anything like that. Turns out, it was academic-oriented:

Second-grade students of Heritage Elementary School in Madison were going to participate in an academic Easter egg hunt. A quiz bowl-type game with questions asked, then students would go on a hunt for the answer inside one of the many colored plastic eggs.

Now that does sound like something they would do. So, the principal decided to drop the "Easter" and just have an "Egg Hunt." I think that's perfectly appropriate for public schools. Huntsville and Madison schools are very diverse, with people from all over the world. I feel bad for the principal. I think she made a good call now she's being vilified.

What's more troubling is that the superintendent seems to be doubling-down on the "We'll keep Christmas and Easter" in public schools in response to overwhelming criticism of the principal's decision to remove the word "Easter" from the egg hunt. Full article:

http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/03/hun ... rt_m-rpt-2

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Well, if you have an egg hunt, it's an Easter thing whether you use the word "Easter" or not. Same for the bunny. No one is gonna be fooled, and really it's not about the specific wording used, as much as the "oh no PC police!" like to pretend it is.

Having an egg hunt in school that's restricted to the school day, an activity that's just about the here and now, everyone is participating and the "payoff" such as it is is usable by all, right there in school, it's definitely about Easter but really that doesn't bother me. The stuff that really rankles is stuff that assumes about the home lives of kids and sort of only really is meaningful if the kids are doing something outside of school too.

So in the past (even into the 70's - I experienced this in DC public schools in the 70's), asking kids to write about "what they want for Xmas" or anything that assumes that kids are getting gifts, or that they need to give gifts, or even making explicit Xmas ornaments in art class (because of course those are useful to all kids, right?) is a problem.

Though, that same school was all about us making ash trays as gifts for our parents (because all parents smoke, right??). I can't imagine that one flying in 2013 either :) Not to mention the gift exchange where boys and girls were separated and I got... a Barbie outfit. That was an interesting year of school, I'll just say.

A lot of these battles seem to be about people who feel nostalgia for those days when the schools did assume that everyone has the same home life and celebrates the same stuff, that all kids are excited about Santa and the Easter (yes Easter!) Bunny. They wish they lived in the world of "A Christmas Story" (where again the kids are made to write about what they want for Xmas).

Often the argument then turns to some appeal about how it's unfair to kids to not let them get all crazy keyed up about the holiday in school. Well, if they bring it up in normal playground conversation that's one thing, but I don't see why kids can't have one place, for a few hours every day, that isn't overtly themed? It's not as if they're not completely bombarded with holiday marketing outside of the classroom already. They can still be excited about Xmas even without the big picture of Santa on the wall.

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I grew up in a predominantly Catholic area of Massachusetts. Our public school ALWAYS had Good Friday off. I don't remember any Easter themed activities at school however, and I know my kids aren't doing anything at all this week out of the ordinary at school.

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As a reform Jew I would not want to particpate in school sanctioned easter egg hunts becuase it's not part of my religious practice. On year my sister's class were asigned to do this big paper mache easter egg project in school and mom opted to keep her home vs have her participate and feel uncomfortable or not participate and feel uncomfortable.

Growing up I don't remember doing any easter activities in school other than kids bringing in easter candy at lunch and bizarrely enough wanted to trade it for matzah (I really don't know why goyem like matzah but then it's probably a fun thing to try if you're not stuck eating it for 8 days)

Often the argument then turns to some appeal about how it's unfair to kids to not let them get all crazy keyed up about the holiday in school. Well, if they bring it up in normal playground conversation that's one thing, but I don't see why kids can't have one place, for a few hours every day, that isn't overtly themed? It's not as if they're not completely bombarded with holiday marketing outside of the classroom already. They can still be excited about Xmas even without the big picture of Santa on the wall.

I don't know if it's just me but it seems like people are more and more focused on holiday celebrations and they have gotten more exagerated and commericalized as we grow older. Valentine's day used to be a simple card exchange, now it seems like everyone shares bags of candy. St Patrick's has become a big candy holiday too. I guess the candy lobby is raking in the cash?

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I don't know if it's just me but it seems like people are more and more focused on holiday celebrations and they have gotten more exagerated and commericalized as we grow older. Valentine's day used to be a simple card exchange, now it seems like everyone shares bags of candy. St Patrick's has become a big candy holiday too. I guess the candy lobby is raking in the cash?

hlntv.com/article/2013/03/22/holidays-overwhelming-st-patricks-day-parenting-rage-against-minivan

Good article/blog about how holidays have gotten out of control

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When I was at primary school (ages 5-11) we decorated egg cups, made Easter bonnets and Easter cards - all to do with bunnies, chicks etc, never any religious symbolism. And this is in the UK where prayers and hymns are normal at state schools! We also made and decorated divas (little oil lamps) for Diwali and at secondary school we had Eid parties to celebrate the end of fasting. But there were lots of Hindu and Muslim students at my schools, and those things were led by members of those faiths - my primary school teacher who made divas with us was Hindu and wore her sari to class on holy days, and my Religious Education teacher at secondary school got Muslim students to advise on the Eid parties. I think it is good for schools to celebrate all religious and cultural events if possible, but it should only be done in a way that includes members of those faiths and is not doing them as 'exotic' curiosities. Does that make sense?

I certainly think that schools should celebrate ALL faiths, not just Christianity, or nothing at all. Oh and I'm a Christian and have no problem with secular celebrations of Easter, why would I object to chocolate yummies??

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When I was growing up in Scotland (1970s) Easter did not include any bunnies. We had eggs but no bunnies. Might the bunny actually be an American custom? Let's not forget, too, that the association with eggs and the timing of Easter itself ARE actually based on pagan festivals. I'm guessing the ancient Jews didn't need to celebrate spring much, but the poor pagans stuck up there in the north of Europe certainly did. So while I can certainly understand that Jewish parents would object to their children being involved in Christian festivals, perhaps we could view secularized eggs and bunnies as just returning to their roots- a very human need to celebrate the end of winter.

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My kids' schools (in Toronto 2000's) incorporated most holidays in an educational way. Easter was handled as a celebration of spring and included other spring festivals/holidays (Nowruz comes to mind). Other holidays were discussed/acknowleged throughout the year - Dewali, Eid etc. Nothing was specifically "celebrated" - so, no Easter Egg Hunts or Christmas Carols. Then again, they were in schools where there was a lot of diversity and Christianity wasn't the default religion.

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I never cared much for Easter, it was the lamest holiday. All we did was wake up early, my parents expected me to hunt around the house looking for candy I wasn't going to eat & the eggs I dyed, when all I really wanted was to read whatever book I was reading. Every year they would hide one or more eggs "too good" and forget where they were and I'd have to spend more time looking for the stupid egg that the creepy bunny probably ate while my my parents watched me and made me feel really embarrassed. Then we'd go to Church and visit with extended family who would all do that fake excited thing and ask me about "the Easter bunny" and I'd be like "yes, whatever" and either attempt to climb trees while wearing a dress or go back to reading.

All of that to say, I don't now why people who aren't Christian would even want to bother with it. It's boring and stupid.

St. Patrick's day, however, is awesome. As a child, we wore green and went to a parade where we got green bagels and green apple juice and green candy (that I never ate because I was a weird kid who didn't like candy, and was told that went I was older I'd get to drink green beer and stay up late. Then we went home and ate corned beef and the grownups ate cabbage (I didn't like it cooked until, probably, last year). So I see the point that the article linked above was making. There was no "pot of gold" that I had to find, no hidden chocolate, nothing other than "when you get older, this is a day where people get drunk and it's socially acceptable."

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Yes that makes sense. I'm just wondering what are schools to do? Completely ignoring holidays seems like an overreaction.

They completely ignore tons of holidays. Holidays you don't even know about because of how ignored they are.

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I don't remember anything other than spring being mentioned at school, unless it was learning about how people observe holidays throughout the year. Our spring break was the week after Easter, so Good Friday was just another school day, but some parents did keep their children home on that day, as it is a religious holiday. Easter was more about the bunny, chocolate, and a ham dinner in my family, as my dad hated having Catholicism forced on him as a child, so the only times we ever went to church was for a family thing like weddings, baptisms, or funerals. Sometimes I do go to the Episcopal church at Christmas and Easter, but other than that, I don't go to church.

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They completely ignore tons of holidays. Holidays you don't even know about because of how ignored they are.

Yeah, I don't recall any Muslim, Santeria, Shinto, or Wiccan holidays being addressed when I was in school.

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It got ignored at my daughter's school. No reason to celebrate Easter at school. They did spring things with flowers and things like that.

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When I was growing up in Scotland (1970s) Easter did not include any bunnies. We had eggs but no bunnies. Might the bunny actually be an American custom? Let's not forget, too, that the association with eggs and the timing of Easter itself ARE actually based on pagan festivals. I'm guessing the ancient Jews didn't need to celebrate spring much, but the poor pagans stuck up there in the north of Europe certainly did. So while I can certainly understand that Jewish parents would object to their children being involved in Christian festivals, perhaps we could view secularized eggs and bunnies as just returning to their roots- a very human need to celebrate the end of winter.

Not an American customs in its origins - the bunnies, I mean. The first recorded mention of Easter bunnies comes from 1682, and it's described as a myth and custom of the Alsace/Palatinate area. So it apparently started out as a local myth in some German-speaking areas. I only know this, because it came up elsewhere today.

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Well, if we're going to be honest about Easter and its fertility symbols, shouldn't the green grass be fertilized by the blood dripping from the dying god up on the cross?

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I have no problem with religious celebrations being TAUGHT in public school, as long as equal time is given to at least the major religions, but I do have an objection to having them celebrated, even those that have become secularized. I went to school in the late 50s and 60s and celebrations of Christmas and Easter were very much a part of the school year. We had a Christmas concert, Christmas trees in all the rooms, Easter egg hunts, Christmas vacation and Easter vacation and so on. We also still had school prayer. :? All despite the fact that our school had a fairly significant Jewish population. Even as a young kid, I remember feeling excluded even though we were VERY reform Jews. Somewhere around the late 60s this started to change. Christmas and Easter gave way to winter and spring concerts and vacation. No more officially sanctioned religious celebrations. One other significant change I remember is the timing of spring vacation was changed to accommodate Passover. Not really for religious reasons; it was more financial because so many teachers and students were Jewish that the schools would have been half empty. I have no recollection of people getting their panties in a wad because of any of this but that may be because Long Island doesn't have a large population of offense-collecting fundies.

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I think most Ctristmas would be surprised to learn the origins of Easter and Christmas. Easter was named after the goddess Eastre and the festivities pre-dated Christianity.

What gets me is how people will go to church only on Easter. When I was growing up, you always wore something special or new on Easter. I thought it was agianst scripture to focus on one day.

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