There was a time when Easter was just as important as Christmas, if not more important. But it’s no surprise that Christmas has stolen the entire show over the past century. Perhaps because it brings many billions more than Easter.
However, last year 80% of Americans celebrated Easter. In 2019, Michelle Burstein, religious affairs reporter for The Washington Post, wrote: “…for Americans of no faith, Easter may be more of a symbol of spring, hope, and renewal or simply an excuse to get dressed in new clothes.”
While Christmas became more and more commercial, Easter remained a religious holiday. Despite companies’ constant efforts to exploit it, in 2020 Easter generated just $21.7 billion in sales revenue compared to $777.2 billion at Christmas.
In the early 20th century, Easter and Christmas were mentioned in English-language books published with almost the same frequency. By the year 2000, Christmas was mentioned nearly four times as often as Easter.
One place where Easter seems to have an advantage is church attendance. While there may be some regional differences, the data clearly indicates that the three most important weekends for church attendance in America are Easter, Christmas Eve, and Palm Sunday.
If there’s one nice thing about Easter being a sister to Christmas, it’s that at least there is one holiday where the meaning is quite clear. While for some I know Easter is all about jelly beans, and churches report a 230% increase in attendance.
There was this story about churches reported by the Guardian newspaper in the UK this past January:
Churches are closing in rapid numbers in the United States, researchers say, as congregations across the country dwindle and a younger generation of Americans abandons Christianity altogether — even as the faith continues to dominate American politics.
As the United States adjusts to a growing non-religious population, thousands of churches are closing each year in the country – a number that experts believe has accelerated since the Covid-19 pandemic.
This situation means some difficult decisions for the priests, who must decide when the dwindling congregation cannot continue. But it has also created a thriving market for those who wish to buy churches, with former houses of worship now finding new life.”
Rather depressing news, because I think religion has been one of the only things that provide moral fiber in our time. I am confused as to where our children learn that there are certain universal truths that we must abide by on our journey through life. It is these truths that keep humanity bound and united with one another, things like, “do to others,” Which is perhaps one of the deepest rules that humans have sought to abide by. Moral fortitude. Where is his fountain now?
Perhaps one of the greatest shocks of my life has come from visiting Ireland several times and seeing that religious faith in that beautiful country has waned. Their unique faith has brought them through 800 years of British rule, potato famines, disease outbreaks, and poverty. What makes them go through such difficult times on Earth today?
It’s a great weekend to reflect and remember our duty to other human beings. I think the real defining characteristic of a person is the way they treat others. I think we forgot that. Now that other defining principles have shaped our lives, such as money, we have forgotten many important things.
Well, it’s starting to look like Easter outside, at least last week it was. I wouldn’t rule out one last random blizzard. This past April it snowed on the 17th in a final test of our patience. But there are still the beginnings of buds on my lilac trees, pastels are back on our store shelves, and I hear kids playing outside again.
This past Saturday, before the freak storm arrived, families packed the park in Lakewood. It was great to see him. Getting out again is a sure sign that nature’s renewal is beginning. I hope it will be a renewal within each of us as well.