Happy Easter, One and All!
Friday, my wife asked me what Good Friday was all about. She often asks me
about the machinations of organized religion, despite the fact that although I
was born a Lutheran, I was raised a Unitarian. Therefore I know little
of all of the details behind religious holidays. I respect those who endeavor to
celebrate these holidays in the fashion they were meant to be celebrated; Good
Friday = solemn, Easter = happy, Passover = happy, etc.
So I'm sitting in the car outside of Mozzicato's Pastry Shop at 2:30 in the
afternoon on Good Friday and I told my wife that "Good Friday is when Catholics
remember that Jesus Christ was put on the cross to die."
"What's so good about that?"
"I haven't the slightest idea. But what you must remember, dear, is that the
Catholics, and all Christians, believe that Jesus died for our sins.
So of course the day Jesus died is, er, kinda important to those people." Then I
went on to tell her that we better get our asses into Mozzicato's before it's
"What happens at 3:00? Do they close early."
"Oh, no. All the good Catholics, especially the ones here in Little Italy, in
St. Andrew's parish, had to stay home, inside, from 12:00 noon until 3:00. It's
a time they spend in quiet contemplation of Jesus and their religion and
things like that. That happens on Good Friday. But if we don't get inside to
pick up the cakes for this weekend, we're gonna become inundated with Italian
Catholics lining up for their treats for Easter dinner."
Our banter continued; the part I remember best is when she asked me if the
folks who run Mozzicato's are Catholic.
"Yes, I believe they are."
"Then why are they working, instead of staying inside from 12:00 to
I made a snide remark about their ability to go to confession either that
night or Saturday to get another hole punched in their ticket to Heaven. She
knew that talking about Catholics is not my favorite subject. Some of the most
evil people I've known called themselves Catholic, and I've told her so. Also, I
know and count among my friends plenty of Catholics. I guess my problem is with
a religion that's so strict you can get thrown out of the church for getting a
divorce; yet so forgiving that my pal Chris can beat the crap outta
someone who owes him money, but all's forgiven if he goes to confession and
follows the priest's instructions.
Sure enough, our car was nearly surrounded at 3:10, when we emerged, after
finishing the day's lesson in "religions other than ours. Then, we
were waiting on line with about 30 pious Catholics (many of whom resembled
Estelle Getty, only with bad hair and dressed in black) and my wife asked, in
a voice loud enough to be heard by about ten of them, "So why's Easter so
"Well, Jesus's followers went into the crypt where Jesus was supposed to be
laid out and lo and behold, they couldn't find his body. He had ascended to
Heaven, to be beside God, his father, and for ever more be the savior of
humankind. Oh, and honey, 'ascended' is kinda like flying up into the sky."
"Hmm. Now I get it. We put oranges and other foods out in front of Buddha,
especially on the holidays, so the Easter eggs are what the Catholics give to
Jesus, right?" This garnered more than a few stares from our companions on line.
I gathered up all the courage I could and said "Well, the egg thing is more
like a symbol for rebirth; Jesus was re-born in Heaven. Before the Catholics,
the pagans also celebrated fertility around springtime by using eggs. But I
don't think they had coloring for the eggs. In fact, I'm not sure what they did
with them. But eggs in springtime aren't just for Catholics."
An elderly woman nearby gave me an Evil Eye that I thought would send me
plummeting to Hell that moment, and put a curse on all my relatives for the next
thousand years. When the woman with her, ostensibly her daughter, saw this, and
saw my look of complete and utter embarrassment at the whole situation, she
pulled me aside and said gently to us, "You're not Christians, are you?"
My wife chirped up "we're Buddhists!"
At that moment, in that place, I felt as if she'd uttered the words "we're
filthy pagans who worship idols, work on the Sabbath, speak a foreign tongue
and write in funky symbols, and gamble a lot."
Now, this story would have a really happy, Hollywood ending if the nice
lady next to us said something like, "Well, it is my sincere hope that some day
you find Jesus, but I'm sure that Jesus loves us all and that you'll be okay.
And by the way, happy Easter."
That didn't happen.
The woman merely said, "My mother takes her religion very seriously. I do
believe she found your words about Easter eggs rather unsettling. But then, we
all have the right to say and believe what we want. After all, this is America.
But you're going to go to Hell because you've not accepted Jesus Christ as
So that's my "Easter greeting to end all Easter greetings." "You're gonna go
to hell. Have a happy Easter."