Stop the presses. A headmaster at a school in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, has removed the word “Easter” from their annual Easter Hat Parade to make it more inclusive. Principal Michael Jones of Bondi Public School, a primary school located a short walk from the world famous Bondi Beach has decided that removing this word would allow for more people to be included.
Hmmmm, which exclamation of shock do I go with?
- Wait, what?
- Ex-squeeze me?
I know I’ve used this photo before, but I’ll go with this…
Exactly… what ARE you talking about Mr Jones? Am I reading too much into this and thinking that you hate Easter? Will it be called the Easter Hate Parade next year?
Why does it matter if you call it an Easter Hat Parade rather than just a Hat Parade? Let’s look at the facts and you’ll see why it doesn’t matter.
The parade of hat wearing children is traditionally held just before the Easter long weekend. We’re not changing the name of that long weekend which is book-ended with Good Friday, and Christian holiday at one end and Easter Monday, as day that, whilst not celebrated by all Christian nations including the US, it is still synonymous with the four day Christian festival that is Eastertide. Enveloped within those book-ends are Easter Saturday, a day itself not necessarily all that holy for some, but a day that is smack bang in the middle of two of the most holy days in the Christian calendar.
And lastly, the big one; Easter Sunday. The holiest of holy days for some Christians. A bigger deal than Christmas to many of them. Yes, there’s no denying that Easter, for all it’s worth, is always going to be known as Easter in countries that are predominantly Christian nations.
You may have read my posts The War On Christmas: Part 1 – The Case For Happy Holidays and The War On Christmas: Part 2 – Why Is Santa The New Enemy? or even Why Do Non-Christian Families Celebrate Christmas? And then again, maybe you haven’t. You can read them if you want but I’ll give you a heads up or relay the gist of what I have said in them. But before I do, let me share with you this screen print from a public Facebook page. It’s a comment that I made last night when the person who, 1. is of the Jewish faith, and 2. didn’t grow up in Australia asked about the tradition of making hats or bonnets for an Easter Hat Parade.
As I said in at least one of those posts about the War on Christmas or the one about non-Christians celebrating the Yuletide festivities, as an Atheist I’m not worried about these celebrations bearing the Christian name. In fact, I know that I suggested that, without the tie to Christianity, the tradition of giving gifts, Easter eggs and holding parades like this would not exist if it wasn’t for the religious observation. And, I might add, neither would the four days of public holidays, those being Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday be days off for all of us.
My guess is, Mr Jones, that the children at your school will still adorn their non-Easter hats and bonnets with Easter decorations. In fact, thanks to one of the dads of a student at your school that goes by the name of Busy Dads on Instagram and Facebook, I know this hunch of mine to be true.
Now my guess is that there was no official ban on decorating one’s hat with Easter related material. And my guess is that going forward, Christian and non-Christian families alike will send in Easter related items for the students to stick on their hats if they’re being made at the school as our son’s school does, or they’ll stick Easter related items on the hats if they are making them at home like many of my friends’ did with their kids.
Kids being kids will be proud of their creations, whether they’ve made them themselves at home or school, or whether their parents have made them for them, and as such I’m sure they’ll discuss their creations. And those with the Easter eggs and Easter Bunny motifs will no doubt talk to those kids who don’t have those things on their own, whether it’s due to that child coming from a non-Christian and non-Easter celebrating family, or whether the child DOES comes from a Christian family who doesn’t believe in promoting chocolate or decorated eggs and a rabbit.
In all my years of witnessing Easter parades, I have never seen a child’s hat bearing religious icons depicting the “true meaning of Easter.” I mean, really now, how do you think a crucified Jesus would look sitting atop a bright and often poorly painted $2 hat? I mean, take away the scantly dressed and bloodied man himself, and even that archaic torture device that is the crucifix, whilst not often being thought of as an actual means of putting one to death in a painful and prolonged manner when being displayed by Christian – but not withstanding that, even still – it’s not really the go to decoration for the young child making their Easter Parade hat.
I don’t want to go over the same old ground and arguments that I did in those previous posts about Christmas, but the same things apply to Easter. We love tradition. That’s why these Easter bonnet/hat parades still exist. And unless you’re going to hold them earlier or later in the year and totally disassociate them with this festive season, call it what you will but it will still be an Easter Parade. It is that simple.
And just like we had many of the Hindu, Punjabi and Muslim kids at our school join in on our Christmas decoration activities at our local preschools and public schools, in all the years that I’ve attended the Easter Hat Parades at this learning institutes, I have watched these kids and have noticed that they have joined in and worn their decorated hats with pride.
Although the idiom that was born from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is not quoted verbatim, you can definitely apply the phrase “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Because, the fact is, if you call the Easter Hat Parade the Non Religious Head-Wear Procession but have everything about it look and feel like an Easter Hat Parade, it is what it is…
An Easter Hat Parade.
So what do you think? Do you think this is just a blow up by this headmaster or do you agree with his “more inclusive” ideal? Does you school have an Easter Hat Parade?