I received a press release from Parramatta City Council earlier today on some Easter news for western Sydney:
Parramatta City Council has again thrown caution into the winds of political correctness, this time to celebrate Easter in the city. Following on from the very successful initiative in 2010 to celebrate Christmas and wish it’s residents a “Merry Christmas” rather than “Seasons Greeting”, Parramatta councillors voted on Monday night to celebrate Easter by putting signs around the city wishing it’s residents a “Happpy Easter”.
Councillor Michael McDermott who drove the initative said “I think we have moved on beyond this nonsense notion that celebrating our traditions will offend any of our residents, it’s time for other cities to wake up and realize that no one is offended, in fact residents of other faiths and backgrounds are breathing a sigh of relief that some sense has been brought back to the debate and as long as we respect and value their traditions, there is no problem”. Councillor McDermott stated that “while the usual naysayers on council tried to throw up administrative and bureaucratic reasons why not to do it, the majority of councillors supported the move which will see signs placed around Parramatta city and suburban shopping areas”.
50% of the signs will carry the traditional Easter Eggs and Easter Bunny images while the other 50% will carry images representing the Christian notion of Easter. Councillor McDermott went on to say that “he was especially pleased that this time the signs will be pushed out into our suburban shopping precincts as well as the city center. It’s important to share the hope, joy and fun of these celebrations with all of our residents . There was mention of the Lord Mayor handing out Easter eggs in front of the town hall and even the Deputy Lord Mayor dressing in an Easter Bunny suit. This will be a lot of fun”.
Lest people think this shift from “political correctness” represents a repression of religions other than Christianity, I draw attention to the fact that Parramatta is also set to stage one of the largest Indian cultural celebrations in the Southern Hemisphere later this year to coincide with the Hindu festival of Dwali. I welcome this new respect for diversity and receptivity to both Christianity and other religions.
4 thoughts on “Easter in Parramatta”
I admit I’m curious what “images representing the Christian notion of Easter” consist of. I’ll be honest, I find images depicting the crucifixion a bit creepy, especially when they’re held up as something to “celebrate.”
I have no problem with such signs as long as all faith traditions within the community get similar representation when it’s requested. I admit, though, that I’m often curious if that might not get burdensome at some point. To be frank, there are a LOT of religious traditions out there, and they each have a lot of different holy days and festivals. At what point does it all become too much work? And what about those cases in which two such holy days or festivals coincide or overlap? I’m not saying these are insurmountable issues or that they’re a good reason not to go through with this sort of thing. I’m just saying I hope someone has thought through these and similar questions and have worked on developing possible solutions.
Well, Easter is first and foremost about the resurrection, about new life and new hope. Of course, there would be no resurrection without the crucifixion, but the crucifixion is not the end of the story. Easter climaxes with the good news: he is risen!
Our community of disciples celebrates Easter as follows: on Holy Thursday we remember the last hours before the arrest of Jesus, including the last supper, with a candlelit Tenebrae service; on Good Friday we remember the crucifixion of Jesus with a celebration of his sacrificial love; on Easter Sunday the celebrations climax with a reaffirmation of the resurrection of Jesus and the new life he offers. The celebrations have a narrative flavour, and as with most narratives there’s a rhythm of dark and light.
I’m not sure how the council intends to work this out in practice, but I wouldn’t be suprised if relative size of religious community acts as a yardstick for the attention given. As Catholicism and Hinduism are both large in our area I’m not surprised they’ve received the most attention so far. It’s easy said than done I know, but I welcome the recognition that atheism is not the neutral referee that some have touted it as in the past, that political correctness can be just as universalizing as the cultural imperialism of the past.
For your interest, they’ve allowed “Magick Happens” Festivals to happen in the Town Hall in past years, so Pagans are hardly excluded either.
Go Parra! Jarred, I think the questions you raised are definitely points to be considered when deciding such matters. I imagine the outcomes would really depend on the diversity in each community and the strength of the relevant lobbyists.
Matt, I appreciate how you have expressed “that political correctness can be just as universalizing as the cultural imperialism of the past”. If there is demonstration that various cultural practitioners can live side by side in peace and mutual respect, I take it as an indicator of maturity that the human race is sorely in need of demonstrating these days!