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The Easter Christmas Paradox

When days are reliable and unreliable, we need a holiday to tolerate the confusion. There is a weekend holiday that is like on other on a calendar, a calendar that many local banks will give out for free.  In the malls in December, there are many kiosks that display theme like calendars to remind you that the current year will end soon. Since the Palm Pilot didn’t really catch on, it is time to replace that paper calendar, secured by a bent nail in your kitchen.

Now the themes of this calendar’s in the kiosks tend to represent current trends. Justin Beiber and Spice Girl calendars are usually in the back row, to allow Drake and Game of Thrones calendars their well deserved prime location. Cat calendars fight with dog calendars as pet lovers fight like cats and dogs to get their perfect cute display for the coming year  Many of the older generation need this cardboard like tactile reminder of whether April has 30 or 31 days.

Dealing with change will threaten our sense of stability, and the rapidity of change in a technology-addicted world, is challenging for even the most flexible software designers.  A lot of words that start with the letter “D, help us with our constant transformation. Words like Diverse, Different, Dichotomy, Divergent and Dissimilar and Diametrically opposed are the starting point for contrasting conversations of change.

The two biggest holidays of the Christian religion are both reliable and unreliable celebrations.  Whether you are Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Evangelical, Catholic, a Jehovah Witness or you just started your own religion for the tax break, you know that Christmas and Easter are going to be foundational dates at your place of worship.  Both will test your ability to adapt.

Christmas day is like a lottery, as it can occur any day of the week, and that inconvenience messes up your plans for Bingo night.  Once in a while December 25th occurs on Sunday and as a child, I would celebrate that year, as the family was only dragged to church once that week.

The many who work in retail, do not celebrate that holiday’s break, as it is brief. On December 24th, they serve the demoralized males who enter the store at 3:00 pm carefully searching for that perfect gift for their wife.  Since fondue sets and ironing boards are the only items left, the male inquires about gift cards nicely wrapped to keep the romance alive at home. The smiling staff, slowly escort the males to the partially closed doors of the store, as they remind the customers that they close early on Christmas Eve.  When all the locks are finally secured, the employees fill the shelves with every item not sold that year, and prepare for the 50% off Boxing Day stampede that will happen shortly.

Christmas is not the holiday retailers enjoy, as a twenty-four hour break from work, is not a celebration.  But Easter is the weekend they circle on their Kitten themed calendar, because that is the ultimate retail break.  Easter never occurs on any other day except Sunday.  That is the essence of reliability.   Well that reliability lasts for about a second, as unlike good old December 25th, Easter can happen on any Sunday in March or April.  There is quite a gypsy-like logic to this unreliability: 

“In 325CE the Council of Nicaea established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox.(*) From that point forward, the Easter date depended on the ecclesiastical approximation of March 21 for the vernal equinox.

Easter is delayed by 1 week if the full moon is on Sunday, which decreases the chances of it falling on the same day as the Jewish Passover. The council’s ruling is contrary to the Quartodecimans, a group of Christians who celebrated Easter on the day of the full moon, 14 days into the month.”

It gets more complicated:

Comparative calendars 

“Not all Christian churches observe Easter according to the Gregorian calendar. Some churches still observe Easter under the Julian calendar.

The Gregorian calendar was created because the Julian calendar was slightly too long. With the Julian calendar, the equinox date moved towards the earlier dates of March and further away from the Easter. Therefore, the introduction of the Gregorian calendar allowed for a realignment with the equinox

This lunar based tradition leads to a holiday that keeps those calendar makers up late at nights, as they look up in the sky at a crescent moon and calculate full moons for the next 50 years.

But those retail employees are less interested in the calendar people’s dilemma, (another D word) but are very interested in the fact that Good Friday and Easter Sunday are holidays that occur on the same weekend.  Working on Saturday seems like a fair compromise knowing the days before and after that day are holidays.  If you work for government agencies like the postal service, you get Easter Monday off, but then on Tuesday you are reminded that you work at the post office… everything has a price.

For those very organized planners, who make lists, and know every move they will make for the next decade, allow me to help you with your upcoming “To Do” lists.

 

2014 Sunday April 20, 2014
2015 Sunday April 5, 2015
2016 Sunday March 27, 2016
2017 Sunday April 16, 2017
2018 Sunday April 1, 2018
2019 Sunday April 21, 2019
2020 Sunday April 12, 2020
2021 Sunday April 4, 2021
2022 Sunday April 17, 2022
2023 Sunday April 9, 2023
2024 Sunday March 31, 2024
2025 Sunday April 20, 2025
2026 Sunday April 5, 2026
2027 Sunday March 28, 2027

 

 

Looking back and looking forward can really hurt your neck. But you see that your plan for buying Easter eggs is going to test a lot of those D words, as you will be unable to catch a nice predictable rhythm of chocolate bunny purchasing.

Christmas planning is just as disruptive. 2022 will be your favourite upcoming Christmas, as your church commitments will be cut in half that week.

 

Year Christmas Dates 
2015 Friday, December 25
2016 Sunday, December 25
2017 Monday, December 25
2018 Tuesday, December 25
2019 Wednesday, December 25
2020 Friday, December 25
2021 Saturday, December 25
2022 Sunday, December 25
2023 Monday, December 25
2024 Wednesday, December 25
2025 Thursday, December 25

 

Holidays are unreliable.  Cable technicians are unreliable.  Cell phone data usage bills are unreliable.  Relying on the kindness of strangers is not as reliable as Tennessee Williams predicted.

I will end this very unreliable piece on the reliability of things, with an observation. Observations too, can be less than reliable, particularly when the observer has lost his glasses.  While squinting let me wish all had a happy holiday weekend. The truth is, in my experience the date and time of a holiday is not only unreliable but irrelevant.  If you were able to spend time at a home with people you care about you, that date was only the excuse to get together.  Cherish those times. As I get older the pages on my Charlie’s Angels calendar are flipping by faster than I want them to. Memories can be unreliable, but sometimes that is all that we have.

“ Home is not a place. Home is security, predictability, reliability, dependability, safety, permanence combined together. ” 
― Csaba Gabor-B.

Cue the blong:    It’s Going to be All Right

 

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