I grew up in a good Christian home where every year, two very important events marked the highlights of all activities on the calendar namely, Christmas and Easter. Christmas is usually the most anticipated time of the year and it is always marked with cheerful exchange of gifts amidst lots of merriment and joyous celebrations. This is probably due to the universal acceptance that the season enjoys as it typically tends to be a period of brisk economic activities when traders sought to maximize profits.
For some people, Christmas is simply a cozy holiday season when one sits back to take stock of the year’s activities and for others it marks the culmination of the successes chocked during the entire year and thus a good time to be grateful and to be spent with the family. The story of Easter, however, is not quite the same.
Easter has traditionally been a somber period. It doesn’t typically enjoy the same exuberance with which Christmas is embraced yet the reason for this seemingly lackadaisical reception may not be so obvious.
Could it be that Christians have successfully maintained the season’s core purpose of serving as a memorial for the agony of their risen Savior and hence its somber nature? Is it because the period is so inherently associated with suffering and death, which are by no stretch of the imagination a merry affair? Or it may probably be due to its muddled pagan origins which detractors trumpet without fail during the season thus dampening the otherwise celebrant moods of many while making some lose faith in the whole celebrations altogether.
I remember I used to see people (usually elderly women) adorned in funeral cloth with very mournful countenance – in fact, some do even wail disconsolately – in certain mainline churches especially on the Good Friday. It makes one wonder, is it some sort of a cruel irony that this day is tagged “good” when the prevailing mood on the day is palpable sadness? Or is it that the true essence of the day is lost or probably misplaced?
I can surmise then that the melancholic milieu of Easter festivities is culpable for its seemingly poor reception because it paints a picture too gloomy for many to readily embrace. Ours is a generation in pursuit of happiness and lofty dreams thus we are very intolerant of any negativity that we perceive could mar our pollyannaish aspirations. So at worst we reject outrightly anything that threatens our happiness and at best resort to rebranding or undergoing a total makeover that appropriately suits our jolly taste.
Is it any wonder then that in Ghana today, Easter is synonymous with joyous festivities in Kwahu? It used to be that in the period nearing Easter celebrations, most ads on TV and radio were about upcoming church conventions and various outreach missions but that is fast changing and giving way to more modern trends. Thus, it is not uncommon to hear ads about paragliding that promises a thrill of a lifetime or those other popular ones in the line of “Easter Jam At Kwahu Featuring Sarkodie and Kojo Antwi…” among others.
Is this new trend good? Well, that will depend on who you ask. For the savvy business man or event organizer, this is just another golden opportunity to rake in large profits. For the insatiable hedonist, it’s just one more reason to party! For the Minister of Tourism, it’s a great time to showcase to the rest of the world the best the country has to offer in order to attract more tourists and investors. For the priest, it is just one more reason to bemoan the adulteration of an otherwise sacred Christian ritual through unholy worldly influences whereas for the zealous young Christian, it’s a good opportunity to intensify evangelistic efforts to bring more lost souls into their fold. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.
In the end though, Easter like any other period, is a good time for Christians to ponder the costly sacrifice of their beloved Saviour that purchased their redemption. Whether you are going to mark this period with intense fasting and prayers or in a pensive Sabbatarian mood or as a jolly good time with family and close friends, do it all to the glory of God with the Christ crucified as your sole focus!
Happy Easter to all…