This weekend marked the Easter holiday for Christians around the world, and last week marked the Passover holiday for our Jewish friends.
The media, department stores and our general environment had a multitude of messaging supporting the holidays. Even our own Congress enjoyed an Easter recess for the last week.
Somehow all of this exposure to religious holidays didn’t cripple our government or bring our democracy to a screeching halt.
So why is American society able to handle these holidays, and even the broad mentioning of their religious significance, better than we handle Christmas and Chanukah? Does it really come down to crèches on city property and signs in lights?
I don’t have a clear answer on this one, but it just seemed that this latest set of spring religious holidays were able to arrive and pass without causing the same political strife and discussion that the winter holidays bring.
The reason cannot be that the spring holidays are more secular. In fact, the opposite is true.
And while there are no lighted signs or displays on the Civic Center steps, it’s not like that there is a lack of government recognition of the holidays. First, as previously mentioned, is the break Congress takes for the holidays. Locally, Easter sunrise services are held at Red Rocks, which is owned by the City and County of Denver.
Even commercialism embraces the religious side of the holidays, with stores of all kinds selling chocolate crosses and even being so bold as to allow their employees to wish customers a “Happy Easter”.
This doesn’t seem so remarkable until you compare it to the Christmas season where discussions about crèches, signs and greetings at stores take center stage.
I’m still very puzzled what the key difference is between the two holiday seasons. But the difference is indeed stark. Figuring it out may help solve the inevitable political fights our society engages in each December.
I realize my own bias on this issue since I personally celebrate Easter and Christmas. However, I do not get the sense from my non-Christian friends that there is a general feeling of pressure surrounding the Easter holiday on non-Christians.
My non-Christian co-workers wished me a Happy Easter as we departed work on Friday, and when asked of their own Easter plans, they weren’t shy to say that they didn’t celebrate the holiday.
Maybe I am blind to the pressure that non-Christians feel during this season. Maybe members of other religions feel slighted that their own holidays are not given more attention.
But maybe, just maybe, the Easter and Passover seasons are examples of where our country truly embraces the First Amendment. The key element of the amendment regarding religion bans the government from establishing a national religion. It doesn’t prescribe a pure separation from any religion or religious recognition from all government entities.
If we take that point beyond the government to a societal level, it means that we can truly show respect to each other by respecting all holidays, not banning them from our country’s collective conversation.
I realize that this conversation is almost as old as our country, and it won’t be resolved in a single blog entry.
But I hope that the civility and normalcy of the spring holiday season this year will inspire us as a society to continue that civility in eight short months. It would seem that regardless of our own religion, or lack thereof, we should be able to agree on civility and respect.
That respect and civility shouldn’t be seen as the miracle of the season.
About The Blogger
- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.