Scary stories from a lovely place
This Easter I’m reminded again of why life in Joburg was different and special.
South Africa is the land of public holidays and Good Friday and Easter Monday were certainly celebrated. But it wasn’t a commercial holiday like it is here. Eggs and the pink bunny and chocolate of every permutation weren’t in abundance. It wouldn’t even have registered on the radar of my local shops because there was a large Muslim population where we lived. Just like at Christmas, I appreciated the absence of Easter crap that’s in my face everywhere at the moment.
I’ve been feeling weird about it all week but only this afternoon it resonated in my mind. This morning at bible study we talked about Jesus’ death on the cross and all the profundity this carries with it for Christians. Essentially, or originally at least, that is what Easter means. It remembers when Jesus, the King of the world, died a dirty, nasty, ignoble death, which was actually meant for humankind. And then it celebrates that he didn’t stay dead, but walked out of his bandages and the tomb a couple of days later.
Then this afternoon I went to the supermarket to get some flour and butter to bake hot x buns. And all around me were Easter Eggs of every size and colour, boxes of chocolate, and frilly, feathery baskets adorned with bunny rabbits. An old man commented to me that he didn’t know what to buy his wife for Easter. He was holding a large box of chocolates. I just smiled, but inside I was thinking “don’t buy her anything”. It’s pretty bizarre that a day of gore and death, and then a day of resurrection has been turned into chocolate and pom-pom tails.
A couple of weeks ago I was in a conversation with some women from church about what craft to do in playgroup for Easter. One lady wanted to make a cross and stick a snake on it and explain about the crucifixion and how it defeats Satan. I thought it was brave and risky and cool. The other ladies were hesitant – that it might scare the kids or offend their parents. The craft lady argued that she wasn’t going to show ‘The Passion’, but she wanted to do something a bit more meaningful. I liked it. I’m sick of Easter Egg baskets covered in glitter with a perfunctory ‘He is Risen’ coloured in on the side.
I wonder if the whole being a Christian thing would be easier if we didn’t live in a ‘Christian’ country where Easter and Christmas are entrenched into the fabric of society but their actual meaning is washed away by replacement icons and lots of chocolate and presents. I kind of wish that Easter and Christmas weren’t public holidays – that we had to take the morning off work on Good Friday to go to church. That would be meaningful.
But I’m really glad Stephen is going to be home this weekend, Silas needs to tackle someone other than Oisín.