Frances Burscough: Confusions reigns on the Easter parade
Easter is a time of observing traditions, whether you understand them fully or not. And you’ve got to admit there is a lot to be confused about. This was, after all, originally a Pagan festival celebrating the arrival of Spring before Christians adopted it as the anniversary of the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.
So not only do we have the cute and cuddly bunnies/baa lambs & bird nests aspect of Easter to contend with, but also the misery, suffering and graphic gore associated with a very brutal and painful death.
So to a child with a vivid imagination in which anything is possible, who faithfully believes everything she is told, at school, by parents or on TV, the likelihood of misinterpretation and misunderstanding is virtually limitless. I was that child. As a Catholic attending a strict convent school, the mixed messages surrounding the feast of Easter made for a very bizarre story indeed.
So let me take you back to the late sixties, when I was a kid attending Lark Hill Convent Preparatory School. Imagine I have just been asked by an adult to explain the true meaning of Easter. This is how I might have described it:
Well, Jesus was invited to go to Jerusalem for the Bank Holiday Weekend, so he went on the back of a donkey. He was so famous that everyone wanted to see him, so they lined up on the streets and then, for some reason, threw bunches of dry palm leaves at him. Probably because they didn’t have daffodils in those days.
Anyway, the 12 apostles were all invited for supper which cost thirty pieces of silver each, even though it was only bread and water. So they all sat on a long table with Jesus in the middle. He turned the water into wine or blood or something and then they all washed each others feet but the night was ruined when the Apostles had a row about who was his bestest friend.
When it was finished they went into the desert to pray but the devil appeared and told them that they had to get back into the town before the cock crow three times or one of them would turn into a baddie. This was Judas, so he threw his money on the ground in a rage and then killed himself.
Anyway because it was Good Friday, the Romans who were in charge (because it was the Roman Times) arranged a procession to go through the town to see some thieves being killed. I bet they didn’t think it was a very good Friday though.
The man in charge was called something like Conscious Pirate and he was also a baddie too so he washed his hands and drank some vinegar then sentenced Jesus to death. Everyone cried and the whole time you kept thinking that God would come to his rescue at the last minute but he never did. Jesus died for our sins and it was terrible because he didn’t do any of them himself because he was such a holy person. Then there was a loud clap of thunder and a terrible storm, even though it was supposed to be spring, and a Roman soldier who looked a bit like Ben Hur said “Surely this man is the son of God” in an American accent and then it was the adverts.
On the next day it was Easter Saturday and everyone was allowed to unwrap their Easter eggs a bit and look at the chocolate but not actually eat any.
In Jerusalem the Virgin Mary went to the tomb and dressed Jesus in the Turin Shroud and then they rolled a giant stone across the doorway. Then the Sound of Music was on telly followed by the Two Ronnies.
But an amazing thing happened the next day because it was Easter Sunday. A holy ghost came down from heaven and with the help of the Easter bunnies they moved the stone and Jesus was resurrectioned. Mary and her friends came back and found the shroud on the floor and realised at once that a miracle must have happened so they all celebrated by wearing fancy hats and having a parade, someone wrote a sonnet about their Easter bonnets and everyone was allowed to eat their Easter eggs.