Celebrating Easter As An Atheist

DSCN3889Happy Easter, if you celebrate it!

That last bit – that “if you celebrate it” – is precisely what I’ll be discussing today. Lately I’ve been pondering what “counts” as “really” celebrating a holiday.

Usually I spend my Sundays working at a restaurant, clearing tables and cleaning up after other people’s messes. (So glamorous, I know. But it’ll help to pay for college tuition and whatnot!) But I have the day off today because IT’S EASTER.

DSCN2898Last week one of the girls at work asked how I would be spending this Sunday: Did I celebrate Easter? A few months ago she’d asked what I was doing for Christmas, so I told her what my family does – none of which is religious. Because we’re atheists/agnostics.

She didn’t phrase the question in an accusatory or weird way, but it still made me think: To what extent can I say that I celebrate Easter? To me, Easter is about making a huge Sunday dinner (this year it’s a leg of lamb and potatoes with SO MUCH GARLIC and some other delicious stuff!) and volunteering at an Easter egg hunt held in a local park and sometimes having relatives visit. To me Easter is about chocolate and bunnies and the coming of spring. Strictly about those things – not those things + church, and definitely not JUST about church.

When Easter rolls around, I’m kind of just along for the ride. I mean, I know I’m not alone in this – plenty of other people don’t follow any religion but still celebrate the religious holidays in one way or another because it’s just kind of a tradition. DSCN2870

It does still feel kind of weird, though, because I hear all kinds of crap about how I’m not doing things the “right” way. Take the NaNoWriMo YWP website, for instance. I haven’t visited that site in months, but their forums were pretty fun. So many kids talking about all sorts of topics – writing and school and books and everything under the sun!

And every December someone’ll post a thread about The True Meaning of Christmas and how If You’re Not Celebrating The Holiday My Way, You’re Doing It Wrong. And I just roll my eyes, because really? I’m not arguing for or against celebrating certain holidays in certain ways. I’m just saying… you do you. If you’re a Christian, go ahead and do your thing, and I’ll do my thing.

To me, Christmas is about family. That’s all that holiday means to me. I wasn’t raised religiously, so my family’s celebrations are entirely secular. And they are for Easter, too. It’s like, “Oh, I have a day off from work? Niiiiiice. YAY FOR A LOVELY EASTER DINNER.” Easter is my favorite holiday from the first half of the year, whether or not I’m celebrating it in the intended way.

DSCN3857For me, it’s more about taking about the break from school and/or work. (Depending on the holiday.) I guess. Like, if school is closed for a particular religious holiday I’m going to be like YAY whether or not I observe that holiday religiously. Most of the holidays during which American schools/businesses are closed are Christian, but if most of them were Jewish, Muslim, et cetera I’m certain I’d be SO EXCITED about those holidays even though little-atheist-me wouldn’t be doing any worship on those days. (“Yay, it’s Eid al-Fitr vacation!”) Because hey – visitors! And food! And a day off from school/work!

It’s adopting a holiday and doing something else with it because even though it’s not quite yours, you’ll have the day off anyway. So why not celebrate, in your own way? (It’s not my fault that I have a day off that I wouldn’t have given myself!)DSCN2884

And I’m pretty sure I’d thought up a decent way to conclude this post, but I’ve forgotten it now. Oops! Anyway, I guess the whole point of writing this post was… to muse about differences between people? The differences between how some of my friends’ families do things and how my family does things? My ideas about some holidays are vastly different from those of my friends because we grew up differently. And that’s OK. I think it’s really interesting to see how different people lead different lives, and what [insert thing here] means to people. I hope you have a lovely day, whether you celebrate Easter religiously or with the Easter bunny or BOTH or neither!

P.S. All the photographs used in this post are my own work! They’re all from the last few springs and have been used in 4-H projects, other posts on this blog, et cetera. I hope you liked them; I thought they added a nice touch of spring-y-ness to today’s musings!


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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9 Responses to Celebrating Easter As An Atheist

  1. Artgirl says:

    Honestly, even within my Lutheranish faith, Easter has never really been a big deal for me. (I may have forgotten until yesterday that it was actually a Thing that was Happening.) It’s always been more or less wake up, eat candy, go to church, help out with the Easter breakfast fundraiser at church, do a thing involving food with family. Maybe I’m a Bad Christian for not putting Jesus at the center of it or something, but really? I very much agree with you. People come from different backgrounds, and therefore have different life perspectives and experiences and celebrate things differently. That in itself should be something we celebrate–our differences make us stronger.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Ehehe, I never remember when Easter is, either. It doesn’t help that it’s a holiday that moves around the calendar, too.

      Ooh, I’m so glad to hear that you agree – I wasn’t at all sure about this post, like, as soon as I published it. 🙂 It made me happy to see that people actually liked this post!

  2. Cait says:

    I think that’s exactly the thing: you should celebrate it how YOU want to and not put anyone down for doing it differently!! XD (Why are humans complex and controlling about their holidays, gah.) We mostly do religious things, but also there’s just lots of food over Easter and the family is around and maybe we walk on the beach. We had lamb too. 😉 With pesto sauce and it was DIVINE.

    Also your photographs are gorgeous.

  3. moosha23 says:

    Yes! The photos are SO COOL – Spring is so cool right now. Well it’s not…not really. Finally, after ages there’s been some sun around London and it was hot. As in take-your-clothes-off hot. As in lying-down-in-the-coolest-room-in-the-house hot.
    Also: whoo for Bank Holiday Monday – I think the good thing about upcoming exams is I don’t have to do a lot of spring cleaning (I leave that to the rest of the family).
    Hmmm…usually what our family “celebrates” holidays the usual way: movies, family get-togethers, and FOOD.
    And if it’s sunny then we go to the park and there’s Easter egg hunts going on. I get what you mean about celebrating Christmas/Easter because you get a brief holiday – and yeah I think that’s how it goes.
    Still, there’s always a semblance of Christmas/Easter holiday spirit around the house. Mum surprises us with huge easter eggs each year and Christmas was all about binge-watching Christmas movies with the family. Oh and wishing for snow, Christmas is pretty much that too.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you! 🙂

      Yep, that sounds a lot like my Christmases and Easters – mostly they’re just about having a short break from work/school, hanging out with family, having some fun, andandand FOOD. 😛

  4. Miriam Joy says:

    It’s weird for me. I’m from a Christian family, and we celebrate Christmas and Easter by going to church, but also in the secular way (presents/chocolate respectively, and a big meal). However, it’s a sign of how much even religious observances are influenced by general culture that Easter really isn’t as big a deal as Christmas — even though technically it probably should be? Because, like, it’s a more significant aspect of Christianity. A lot of people do believe Jesus was born even if they don’t believe the rest; they believe that historically there was a Jesus. The bit they have issues with is the death-and-resurrection part, which is what Easter’s about, so that’s kind of more central to belief. I don’t know where I was going with this. But Easter’s pretty low key for us. We usually get an egg each — my parents will get me one, and get one for each other — and go to church in this morning. This year, my sister came for lunch. But that’s pretty much it. Oh, and I made sure Mum didn’t do any work yesterday, but that was because she needs a break more than for any religious reasons. I dunno. Holidays and festivals are weird.

  5. Pingback: Spring Favorites | Musings From Neville's Navel

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