Friday, 21 March 2008

Earliest Easter for 95 years

I couldn't remember every experiencing an Easter as early as this before and this Telegraph article confirms my impression:

Holidays ruined by earliest Easter in 90 years
By Jonathan Petre and Nick Allen

The earliest Easter since 1913 is playing havoc with the holiday plans of thousands of families this year.

Not only are experts predicting it could be the coldest Easter weekend on record, but the traditional bank holiday exodus has been thrown into confusion by recent changes to the school year.

Around a third of schools are sticking to the historic pattern and beginning their two-week Easter holidays tomorrow - but most of the others are adopting a new system and will not break up until April 4 or even later.

It means that thousands of families who would normally start their Spring break this weekend will have to take their children back to school the day after Easter Monday, only for them to start holidays again the following week . . . .
Well, think yourself lucky, I say. In the US, Easter passes by almost unnoticed. I will be teaching on Easter Monday, something I've had to get used to over the last couple of years; in other years I have taught on Good Friday too (but I have no Friday classes this semester). A lot of the local schools find a way around the problem of no national Easter holiday by making Good Friday a "teacher day" so giving families a longer weekend. But they will all be back at school on Monday. I find the lack of any Easter break still one of the strangest things to try to get used to in living in the US. There is a benefit, the fact that the academic year finishes a lot earlier here than in the UK, and I will be enjoying that when it comes -- teaching all finished by the end of April, graduation all complete by mid May -- but at the moment, on Easter weekend, it still feels very odd. As far as Christian services are concerned, Good Friday does not appear to be an important day in the Church's calendar. Many churches, at least in our area, have no Good Friday service at all (Duke Chapel is an exception). Everything is focused on Easter day. Even there, one might add that Easter seems to be far less important to most people round our way than Halloween or Valentine's Day, which are major American festivals celebrated by all.

I began this blog entry, though, by reflecting on just how early Easter is this year, and I think it makes the strangeness of the lack of Easter celebration here in the US all the more keenly felt (even if the broadcast of The Passion this year has made this Easter quite special for me). In some ways, I can see that it is a good thing. It must be tough to be a Jew or a Muslim in the UK when everyone is celebrating Easter. But like Christmas, Easter is now a pretty secular festival, and the article mentioned above hardly mentions anything about the Christian celebration of the festival -- the issue is connected with school holidays and the weather, adding that "The Met Office has warned that Britain could see snow for the first time at Easter for 25 years". Apparently the next time that Easter will be this early will be 2228. I wonder if Doctor Who will still be on then?


Jeff B said...

Hey Mark,
I'm trying to become a member of the TheBox to download some quality Brit TV and I noticed that you posted a comment about it. I was wondering if you were a member and might be able to invite me! Thanks a lot for your time, and have a good one!

Mark Goodacre said...

Hi Jeff. I would do, but I'm a bit nervous about sending an invite to someone I don't know. Not that I'm sure you are not a fine upstanding and spiffing bloke, but apparently thebox can ban the inviter if the invitee gets into trouble, and that would be a nightmare for me. Sorry about that. Cheers, Mark