Since the past year and a bit has seemed like a horrible, never ending April Fool’s “joke” anyway, the world’s favourite day for pranksters lost a lot of lustre this year.
However with April Fool’s falling on Holy Week this time around, culminating with Easter Sunday on April 4, this does seem like the perfect opportunity to compare April Fool’s Day with Easter and try to determine how different they really are.
The history of April Fool’s, dates back to 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar (assumingly because of the Gregorian’s constant chanting). In the Julian Calendar, the new year began with the spring equinox around April 1. People who were slow to get the news (remember this predated Twitter) became the butt of jokes and were called “April fools.” These pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person. In fact, many French people still celebrate April Fool’s in this way, further solidifying how “non-Foolish” many French people are.
Easter on the other hand began much earlier and branched out from fish to eggs. It is a Christian holiday that celebrates the belief in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which includes Holy Thursday (the “celebration” of the Last Supper), Good Friday (the day Jesus was crucified) and Easter Sunday, when He is said to have risen from the dead. Though we are told He rose from the dead on the “3rdday” which, by my math, means he came back on Monday. But that’s not the biggest issue with Easter, so let’s move on. As parents of young children know, Easter Sunday is also the day a terrifying oversized ‘bunny’ breaks into your home overnight, with gifts of oversized bunny-shaped chocolate, laying “chocolate eggs” to be found, mostly melted, over the course of the rest of the year.
You see what I mean? The paradox of Easter seems like a fantastic April Fool’s joke! Way better in my opinion than putting paper fish on people’s backs. (pardonne-moi mes amis Français)
Full disclosure here, I grew up in the Catholic faith attending Sunday mass every week with my Catholic mother while my Protestant dad stayed home preparing for a full day of watching football. So I should know a thing or two about what Easter really means. Then again, it was only when researching this article that I discovered Ash Wednesday isn’t part of Holy Week. So, I guess I wasn’t paying as close attention as I thought.
But what I have been paying close attention to throughout the years is the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church. With well-documented horror stories of priests preying on children that make the story of Christ’s crucifixion seem like a G rated matinee and with the Vatican recently announcing they refuse to bless LGBT weddings because “gay people are living a life of sin” well, forgive me father, but that is a pile of steaming horseshit (I’ll say my 2 Hail Mary’s when I’m finished writing this).
The Catholic church has NO PLACE in judging people for their sexual orientation and frankly they should be over the goddamn (I’ll say 3 “Our Fathers” for that) moon that people want to be married in the Catholic faith at all given their history. From the rampant predatory child abuse, to the lack of recognizing same sex marriages, to the atrocities of Catholic residential schools in Canada, this is an organization that is indeed run like a “joke” despite the damage they have caused being deathly serious.
Which I guess is why it’s all counteracted with a delightful, egg-bearing bunny who appears once a year as if to say “it’s ok kids! Your parents let me in to hide this stuff. It’s not important why, just eat it!”
But it’s not just the interplay between cavity-inducing bunny and therapy-inducing Catholicism that is confusing about Easter. It’s the whole holiday.
For one, it occurs on floating dates (Easter always falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25) but if the seminal event is the death of Jesus, shouldn’t that occur on the SAME DAY every year? It’s important because, first of all, the Last Supper was the night before his death. So if you gather your friends together for a ‘last supper’ and tell them all the bread is your body and the wine is your blood, you’re going to want to be pretty sure you’re not still around for supper the next night. Your friends may chalk that up to too much wine ONCE. But eventually, they’re going to stop accepting your dinner invitations. Secondly, let’s not forget that Jesus rose from the dead. So if you got the date of your death wrong, then you’re going to be coming back from the dead early. Which is, of course, not coming back from the dead. You’re just telling your friends “I’m back!” and they’re barely looking up from their game of Trivial Pursuit to say “oh….that’s nice. Where were you?”
If we can agree that Jesus was born on December 25 (and cursory research reveals that we can NOT all agree on that) then we should all at least pick one day that is “Good Friday”. Which, while we’re talking about that, is a horrible name for a day devoted to the crucifixion of the Lord. It should actually be called “Very Bad Friday”, or “Horrifying Friday”. Or, updated for modern times, “Make Friday Great Again”.
Yet despite all this, I still see why Christians celebrate Easter. It is a story of redemption and optimism. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice knowing he would be Resurrected. A move that brought hope that despite past differences and severe sins, we might somehow all forgive each other and move forward. That’s a message we need this year more than ever. No matter what week it’s occurring on.
But it is also a pretty damn good April Fool’s joke. (I’ll say 3 Apostles’ Creeds for that. Though I’m not sure I remember all the words.)