Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Myths

      It’s a dark raining Good Friday.  But, that is what how it always is on Good Friday.  Isn’t it?  That thought took me back to childhood memory of standing on the stairs outside Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.  Our junior high school choir group of about twenty girls and three boys was invited to sing during Good Friday ceremonies.  That was about 60 years ago and back then we sang in both English and Latin and most of us actually understood the Latin. 
      As our music instructor, Sister Somebody, I don’t remember her name, gathered us in a group before entering the Cathedral, it started to rain.  No big deal, because we expected it.  It was Good Friday. As a child my perspective of the world was rather parochial.  When it was raining on us, we never gave it a second thought that it wasn’t raining on everyone.  I certainly wasn’t alone on this belief.
      On April 21, 2011 group of school kids posted this letter to the Chicago Tribune:
Dear Tom,
It seems that it always rains or snows on Good Friday. Of course that's not the case, but it does seem to precipitate more often than not. Do climate records back that up? —Bobbie Jansen,Lake Zurich; John Texidor, Lakeview; and Nick Recchia, River Grove
Dear Bobbie, John and Nick, Our climate expert, Frank Wachowski, checked precipitation occurrences on 140 Good Fridays in Chicago since 1871. Measurable precipitation has occurred on 72 of those Fridays before Easter (51 percent) during a time of the year when the expectation for a measurable rain on any day is about 40 percent. When traces of precipitation are added to the mix, 90 Good Fridays (64 percent) fall into the wet column as compared to the expected 56 percent. Current forecast trends suggest that Good Friday this year will join the wet ranks.
      So, if you lived in Chicago, you might find this myth palatable.
      I continued my search with a visit to my favorite debunking site  In the letters from the readers I found the following:
My aunt says it will always rain on Good Friday because that is the day of Christ's crucifixtion [sic]. Strange as it may be it usauly [sic] does. Of course I chalk this up to spring and the wet season. Somebody once said it is true because it is always raining somewhere in the world. Anybody else heard of this UL?
--  The Bobo
Oh yes, I heard of it. I had many family members that believed it for years but I went to visit them when it didn't rain. Although I think it wasn't only supposed to be on good [sic] Friday but also on the hour of his death (which I think most people put somewhere in the afternoon but I don't know how biblical that is or if they corrected for time zone differences). The irrating [sic] thing for me was it did rain for a few good fridays [sic] that I can remember as a child and it was pointed out (by others) that it was proof that it rained on them all. Some will still do the "see I told you so" bit if it rains but completely ignores the fact it doesn't rain every year. It didn't rain here at all here this good friday... maybe I should do the "see I told you bit" on them. Of course I'm pretty sure it rained somewhere.
-- Chimera  
      There were dozens of letters like these two.  As a young schoolboy I learned that it always rained on Good Friday because of Jesus’s crucifixion.  Who told me that?  Don’t know.  It could have been the nuns at my school, such as the one rounding us up to enter the Cathedral.
     But then
How stupid can some people be. So either:
a) It rains everywhere on Good Friday, no matter where. Be it the deserts of the Sahara or the frozen wasteland that is Anartica.
b) It rains only where they live, proving that God has chosen their small little corner of the world as the stage for a proof of his greatness.
My God...

c) They have made the extraordinary leap to claim that, somewhere on the face of the earth, it's going to rain on Good Friday.
"Dear Lord, please protect this rockethouse and all who dwell within..."
-- ASL
      Easter Sunday was always a real treat. Everyone dressed up in their finest to attend church. Earlier in the week my mother would buy me a new suit, new shoes, and a fedora (I hated that thing) and buy my sisters brightly colored dresses and a bonnet. The family would parade into church while eying everyone else to see their new outfits. It was always best to arrive late so we had to match down the center aisle to the front and display our fashion.
      As a child, I also remember Easter Sunday as bright and sunny with all the trees in bloom, especially the dogwoods. That’s the second Easter myth.
There is a legend, that at the time of the Crucifixion the dogwood had been the size of the oak and other forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber of the cross. To be used thus for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus, nailed upon it, sensed this, and in His gentle pity for all sorrow and suffering said to it: “Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross. ..two long and two short petals. And in the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see it will remember.”
The problem is the dogwood is not indigenous to the Middle East.

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