Religion is a weird, weird thing.
I was raised Catholic. Oodgie is Jewish. Cheeky, via some ancient laws which also include "don't trim the sides of your beard" and "stone the witches" is apparently also Jewish (although I'm considering raising her in the Cult of Isis). I respect a lot of what religion has to say, but I have a HUGE problem with all the people and institutions in the world invoking religion to support jihad, homophobia, and creationism. Because of that I tend to keep the whole canonical mess at arms length and let the zealots wear themselves out fighting each other.
But here we are wedged between two major religious holidays. On Monday we went to a Passover sader, where I ate such delicacies as parsley dipped in salt-water and grilled hard-boiled eggs. This CroutonGentile has always found the traditions a little mystifying, so Oodgie shared this simplified agenda with me:
Thanks, God, for creating wine. (Drink wine.)
Thanks for creating produce. (Eat parsley.)
Overview: Once we were slaves in Egypt. Now we're free. That's why we're doing this.
1. What's up with the matzoh?
2. What's the deal with horseradish?
3. What's with the dipping of the herbs?
4. What's this whole slouching at the table business?
1. When we left Egypt, we were in a hurry. There was no time for making decent bread.
2. Life was bitter, like horseradish.
3. It's called symbolism.
4. Free people get to slouch.
A funny story: Once, these five rabbis talked all night, then it was morning. (Heat soup now.)
The four kinds of children and how to deal with them:
Wise child-explain Passover.
Simple child-explain Passover slowly.
Silent child-explain Passover loudly.
Wicked child-browbeat in front of the relatives.
Speaking of children: We hid some matzoh. Whoever finds it gets five bucks.
The story of Passover: It's a long time ago. We're slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh is a nightmare. We cry out for help. God brings plagues upon the Egyptians. We escape, bake some matzoh. God parts the Red Sea. We make it through; the Egyptians aren't so lucky. We wander 40 years in the desert, eat manna, get the Torah, wind up in Israel, get a new temple, enjoy several years without being persecuted again. (Let brisket cool now.)
The 10 Plagues: Blood, Frogs, Lice-you name it.
The singing of "Dayenu":
If God had gotten us out of Egypt and not punished our enemies, it would've been enough. If he'd punished our enemies and not parted the Red Sea, it would've been enough.
He parted the Red Sea, it was enough. (Remove gefilte fish from refrigerator now.)
Eat matzoh. Drink more wine. Slouch.
Thanks again, God, for everything.
What's missing from this version is the flourishes that Oodgie's family puts on the event. Since I've attended these the above was conducted in the form of a) Star Trek, b) the Passion of Queen Lili'uokalani, and c) this year's entry, West Side Story. It makes for an interesting evening when you're unsure if you'll play a role that requires a reggae wig or a Mexican accent.
On the other hand, Easter is this week. As any good Catholic knows, this is the most important holiday of the year because it represents the day that Jesus rose from the dead in the form of a giant bunny, bringing chocolate and colored eggs to all the children of the world.
(I've secretly suspected that some of the rituals of this holiday are actually intended to lull us into a false sense of security so we'll be unprepared when the invading armies of our alien overlords appear.)
Cheeky's not at the age where she'd appreciate the symbolic flavorlessness of matzoh bread, but she completely appreciates the symbolic numminess of candy. This is one of the reasons Christianity has always has the upper-hand in recruiting; colored lights will always top candles, and sugar will always top bitter herbs.
We haven't completely figured out how we'll celebrate Easter this year. I assume church, since that's usually the first thing my parents
make me feel guilty about ask about every year, and possibly an Easter Egg hunt, to see how Cheeky deals with the social pressure of tripping and pushing dozens of candy-crazed kids in a soggy, cold park.
After all, nothing embodies Easter like violence and greed, right?