Easter is just around the corner. And while hundreds of millions of Orthodox faithful are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, let’s spare a thought for the less fortunate among us. For those who feel left out. And of course for those who must sit through another rerun of Jesus Of Nazareth on TV. The list is long.
When we dye the eggs red on Holy Thursday the most they can do is dye their hair, unless they are those lacto-ovo vegetarian people who consume eggs. When we eat Easter bread (tsoureki) in Holy Week before the big feast on Easter Sunday they won’t bother. They will pass on the tzatziki, on the spicy feta cheese dip and all those cheesy (pun intended) delicacies we are so accustomed to. The Cretan vegan can’t taste kalitsounia for crying out loud. When the rest of the family is devouring the magiritsa after the church service of the Resurrection, they are probably Ubering people around. As for the traditional Easter Sunday table, the only thing the bona fide vegan can get their hands on are olives, if there are any left after the morning raki session. The smell of the roasting lamb in the courtyard, the almost ceremonial turn of the kokoretsi is not for them. Being a vegan at Easter is like being a liberal in Venezuela; gather yourself and hope that it ends quickly.
Atheists, agnostics, non-believers and Ricky Gervais fans
The meaning of Easter – the most important date in the Christian calendar – is Jesus Christ’s victory over death. His Resurrection symbolises the eternal life, the triumph of good over evil, sin, and death. Unless you are an atheist of course. Because while the Orthodox faithful gather en masse at the churches and sing the Easter psalms, the atheist is practicing Richard Dawkins quotes in the mirror before making their way to the bar stool, with some Brian Eno tunes in their headphones and the sound of the petards after the Resurrection church service more music to their ears. The Holy Flame is probably just a rum-based cocktail to them and once they’ve had one too many they can drunkenly scream,”God isn’t real. You’re just a bunch of pagans, no better than Ragnar Lothbrok from Vikings!” at unsuspecting bystanders.
It is considered customary at Easter to bring a gift to your godchild as the whole extended family gathers during the Easter break. A toy, a dress, or a good, old-fashioned lambada the kids can proudly hold in church if the godparents want to get something on the cheap and keep it simple. But what about those godparents who only see their godchildren on Instagram and this is their only moment to shine? What about the godmother who needs three hours to decide on a jumper in a shopping spree? Or the tough-minded godfather who believes that his 14-year-old goddaughter is too old for this and he should get her a book by Tom Robbins instead (or Das Kapital by Karl Marx if he is a communist)? What if they spend a small fortune on an Easter gift, only for their godchild to bark right back at them “you only had one job”?
At Christmas the shopping baskets are constantly full. Halloween is great for business. But Easter? Not so much. You won’t catch a ‘7.00 am on a Black Friday’ scene at the mall at Easter time or a ‘Mister Easter’ on a dazzling screen downtown. Easter just doesn’t possess the same market share, partly because you can’t easily commercialise Jesus on a cross and make gazillions of money from it. Easter is something that has a certain mystique; the brutal and transcendent story of Jesus’ death and resurrection isn’t media frenzy and major cash-splash material. In order to be appreciated properly it needs study, devotion, and soul-searching. Trinkets, charms, and mini-bar kits just won’t cut it. Unless you’re a godparent of course.