((The following is an essay which Xavier, a main character
of the Existence series, would have written. It is actually written by me, J.
Lenni Dorner, of course; but the viewpoint is that of the fictional
“What Easter Means to Me”
By Xavier Doyen
under this oak tree in The Yard with my peers discussing this essay has proven
to me that Easter has become a generally misunderstood holiday. Of the five of
us sitting here, Roark and Tim are atheists, Eli is Jewish, Kate is Buddhist,
and I am the lone Christian in this group. While grumbling about the unfairness
of this essay as they research a holiday that they have never celebrated, each
of them continues to turn to me with questions that they expect “the
Catholic one” to have the answers to.
with this begins when they dig into the books and sources outside of the
Christian religious material. “What’s the deal with painting eggs? That’s
not mentioned in your Bible. It appears to be Pagan!” Four sets of eyes
focus on me after Eli’s revelation. This, apparently, is supposed to be the
moment where I set them straight. Where I pull an answer out from a memory
where my Bishop would have shown up to clarify at some point that painted eggs
are a symbol of the markings on the heavy stone that was in front of the tomb
where Jesus has been laid to rest or something. I’m expected to have answer
that would conform to the boundaries of my faith.
I do not.
explain that the painting of eggs is a very old tradition that started in Babylon, with the story
of a giant egg from the sky which landed in a river and hatched open to give
birth to the Goddess of Fertility who would later be known by countless names
and worshiped in every corner of the world. I could draw a parallel between the
Goddess and the Virgin Mary, but it wouldn’t be popular or well-received. I
could explain that she is love and that Jesus is love, so it makes sense that
they are worshipped at the same time. Or I could explain that the celebrations
which were once meant to honor the Goddess were converted into celebrations to
honor Jesus instead as the crusade to convert the world to Christianity failed
to come with instructions that clearly commanded people to toss out their old
is the question that they won’t ask me. “How do the formerly worshipped
Gods feel about having their holidays, celebrations meant to honor them, turned
into Christian events about Jesus?” I think that would be a better
question. The answer to that question could actually lead me to answering what
Easter means to me.
down to choice. No one is forced to celebrate Easter. Once one is old enough to
think for oneself, worshipping any given religion is a choice. Before being
able to think like that, there is no actual worshipping taking place- merely
living dolls that follow along because they have yet to figure out what choice
is and how to apply it in life. The Gods which were once so widely accepted
throughout the world must have had a choice. Jesus was not one of them, he was
not what they were, and he did not serve the same purpose that they did. He
came for the people, for the humans, to guide them on a path which had not been
laid out clearly enough before so that they could one day leave Earth and go to
Heaven. The Gods love the people. They want what is best for them. They gave up
being worshipped, so that the people could follow Jesus and His teachings.
the celebration of what Jesus gave to the people. He suffered and died so that
they would be forgiven. He did this for all people, even those who do not
believe in Him, because He loves everyone equally. Three days later His spirit returned
to His body, and He was alive again. He promised that all the people who
believed in Him and asked to be forgiven for their sins would be saved and
would one day join Him in Heaven. This took place in the early spring, which is
why Easter is celebrated shortly after the Vernal Equinox.
the most fertile time of year. Most animals are born in the spring. Life is renewed
in nature in the springtime. It only makes sense that a time of so much life
would be when people once celebrated the Goddess of Fertility. Then
Christianity came along and dictated that, instead, people should worship Jesus
and celebrate the life that will come after death. The people were confused.
Figuring out how to celebrate the life and fertility that was clearly appearing
all around them was not very difficult. Eggs were a natural symbol of life, and
painting them in beautiful colors was an obvious way to showcase the beauty of
nature as it blossomed around them. Rabbits could be seen breeding the most
frequently, so they also because an easy symbol to include. Sweets, chocolates,
and special breads were passed around as aphrodisiacs to encourage humans to
mate. But how does one decorate for life after death? What sort of craft
project could children get involved in making for something which they could
not even fathom? Herein lay the problem
faced by people who loved to celebrate and decorate but were given no real
ideas as to what to use.
decorations were recycled and repurposed, not to offend Jesus, but to worship
Him by people who were unclear as to what better alternatives there might be.
This answer is offensive to many people. It seems that deeply religious people
tend to assume that two millenniums ago, the world should have been filled with
Martha Stewarts. Perhaps if it had been, everyone would have thrown out their
old decorations and started following patterns to make new ones. This also
assumes that everyone back then could afford to make new decorations. Eggs were
inexpensive. Dye was generally homemade. The people stuck with what they knew
perhaps because Jesus taught about faith and love, not about how to increase
financial wealth in order to afford new decorations for the holidays which
would pop up after his death.
then does Easter mean to me? It means a time of confusion when people argue
over how to properly celebrate something they have yet to fully understand,
often forgetting the real reason for the holiday and using it instead to
compete with each other to find out who can locate the most hidden eggs or be
the finest dressed at a church service that talks about a man who kept His
fashion simple and practical because it didn’t matter. It means listening to my
mother and my sister as they argue over the proper filling for baskets. It
means that a professor will assign an essay such as this one, where I will be
expected to provide a solid answer which I can back up with facts from sources
that can be cited.
that is why, unfortunately, I cannot explain in an essay what Easter really
means to me. The whole truth of what it means to me isn’t something that the
world at large gets to know about. I could discuss what it means to me with
Heath, Jez, Caleb, or Jun, because it means much the same to them. But I cannot
honestly answer this question in an essay that a professor or a classmate might
read. And so, as I sit here under this oak tree, I know I will have to destroy
these pieces of paper and start over. I will have to meet the stares of my four
classmates who are waiting for me to come up with an intelligent answer that I
can back up with one of the information sources which is here before us. The
essay that I will ultimately submit will not really be what Easter means to me,
but rather it will be a well-formatted thesis filled with words that can be
backed up by information that those around me here will be able to comprehend.