In recent decades, the public profile of Easter in the United States has diminished. Americans now spend more on Halloween than on Easter, and the public attention Easter receives is largely negative. Google observed Easter Sunday by celebrating Cesar Chavez's birthday, and public references to Easter are often excised, just as "Christmas" is often replaced by "holiday." My subdivision had an "egg hunt" for children on Saturday, and none of the materials advertising this "egg hunt" even mentioned Easter. Network television, which used to observe Holy Week and Easter by airing such programs as Franco Zefferilli's "Jesus of Nazareth," was largely devoid of religious programming this year. Easter has become rather quiet in America.
But this quiet holiday still offers many simple pleasures. The beauty of Easter shone forth in the church my wife and I attend, with the sanctuary filled with candles and awash with flowers. The contrast with Good Friday, when the sanctuaty was bare, the statues were veiled, and the tabernacle was empty, could not have been more stark. I enjoyed seeing our church filled to overflowing, even though I know I won't see some of the congregants next Sunday. Many people were dressed up, another welcome contrast with an ordinary Sunday. And then there was the welcome quiet coming from all the closed stores and restaurants. Even though most of the chain stores and restaurants were open, the family-owned businesses were not. Easter, then, is a reminder of what Sunday used to be in America, when most people made an effort to go to church and to dress up and commercial activity largely ceased. It is not what Easter used to be in America, but it is still a pleasant contrast with what American life has become.
May all the readers of Chronicles continue to have a Blessed and Happy Easter.
Thomas Piatak is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.