If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel a sense of obligation to visit your family at Christmas. Of course, obligation isn’t necessarily a negative thing: if you’re lucky enough, you’ll also actually want to see these loved ones. And even if seeing family isn’t the draw, Christmas has the potential to be a whole lot of fun: decorations, parlour games, socially-sanctioned over-indulgence, an entire genre of festive music, and, of course, presents. Don’t get me wrong, all of these things are hard things to dislike.
But the reality for many of us is that Christmas can feel like an overwhelming commitment, heavy with the weight of historic obligation and tradition. The social pressure to be in the company of others for a full three days can be a challenge (even if they are your favourite people in the world), and those who don’t make it back for the full period of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are often greeted with a raised eyebrow.
That’s why, for me, Easter is the far superior celebration: Christmas for the commitment-phobic.
The best thing about Easter is the lack of weirdly intense pressure to spend an entire long weekend cooped up in someone else’s house. At Easter, nobody expects you to sleep on a futon in a study and nobody expects you to arrive stay inside for three days making small talk with relatives you barely know or playing Trivial Pursuit.
At Easter you’re free. Free to rock up breezily at 11am on Easter Sunday, have lunch, and shoot off in time for a nightcap in the comfort and privacy of your own home – and be rewarded for it. The lack of traditional familial obligation makes it look like you’ve made more of an effort, like you’ve made more of a conscious choice to go back to see family rather than staying in the city with your friends.
When you do decide to show up, the food’s better too – in my opinion. Minted lamb beats dry turkey any day. Warm, buttery hot-crossed buns make for a fine afternoon snack without the crude overindulgence of bucket-sized tubs of Roses, like you share at Christmas. There’s all the same sense of occasion, without the over-boiled brussels.
Best of all, the welcome reduction in intensity that’s associated with Easter, when compared with Christmas, means you needn’t buy presents for people you don’t actually know that well. That saves the precious days of Good Friday and following Saturday for necessary recuperation – and that far outweighs panic-shopping your festive gifts at the motorway services on your way home on Christmas Eve.
Sure, Christmas has more pomp and ceremony, but why can’t we bring a bit of that to Easter? Bring on the boughs of daffodils. Deck the halls with painted eggs. Get Elton on the line to see if he’ll record some Easter music. Watch out Santa – I’m backing the bunny.