An atheists’ Easter

What does an atheist tell their kids about religious holidays?

I’ve been grappling with that question this weekend.

There’s a lot to like about belief. I have some wonderful religious friends (‘some of my best friends, etc etc…..’). And it seems that kindness, care and genuine community spirit lie at the heart of many different faiths.

But equally, I’m often horrified by some of the less charitable elements of religion. Especially when it’s used as an excuse to validate feelings of fear and anger towards people who are different. For instance, I recently had to walk out of a playgroup held in a church, because the vicar was trying to get parents (many of them non-religious) to sign a petition against gay marriage.

I want Austin and Gwen to know that, even though the Daddy D and I celebrate the main festivals, we’re not religious.

Of course, they should also understand that our history and culture would be nothing like it is today, without these fundamental beliefs as a bedrock. And I hope they will respect that many people genuinely believe in the nativity and rebirth of Christ.

But, to us, these things are just stories. Wonderful, life-affirming stories, with beautiful, magical traditions associated. But stories nevertheless.

I’ve let myself off the hook this year. I’ve wimped out of explaining even the basic stories of Easter and Christmas to Austin. Let alone the subtleties of those tales from the perspective of parents who believe in the magic, but not the myth.

It’s all too complicated, and he’s too little. After all, one of Austin’s peers, when a nursery staff member explained (in very simple terms) about the birth of Christ, thought it was a story about ‘cheese sauce’ (Jeee-sus. Geddit?).

So, food is clearly a helpful entry point when holding complex theological discussions with a three year-old.

Hence, this Easter, it’s been all about the chocolate. Here’s what we did.

We held an egg hunt. Unsurprisingly, Austin was very happy with his finds.*

 
We painted eggs. Here they are before:

During:

 
And after:
We rolled our newly painted eggs down the hill.
They smashed to smithereens; all part of the fun.

Then we met up with some friends, and had a jolly time in the pub.

Here’s hoping you’ve had a good Easter too (secular or non-secular).

How do you celebrate yours?

*Sorry about the product placement. Sadly, we weren’t plied with free chocolate this year by companies hoping I’d blog about it.

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9 Comments

  1. Cheese sauce, brilliant. Well it makes as much sense as anything else! (we had cheese fondue for Easter, does this then count as good secular behaviour!?)

    Love your painted eggs, v.pretty.

  2. fantastic post! we dont tend to do anything easter related although there is the obligatory eggs eaten. I am looking at setting some things in place that are traditions for us but without the underlying debates. (when i find some!)

    Thanks for linking up with #magicmoments x

    • Thanks Jaime! I love the fact that, with your own family, you can set up all kinds of weird and wonderful traditions. Even if they have nothing to do with the festival you’re celebrating….

  3. Haha-that picture of him painting the eggs. He looks like he’s in a full-on hazmat suit. I come from a Christian/Hindu parentage and my parents dealt with wonderfully by celebrating every world religion. We celebrated Diwali, Christmas, Easter, we went into town for Chinese New Year and visited Buddhist temples where we happened to find one-whether in S.E Asia or the mountains of Scotland. It is tough parenting as they got older!

  4. Food is a good way to explain everything. I’m particular fond of sweets for maths.
    I love the painting eggs :)
    Thank you for sharing with the Spring Carnival.

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