Senior consultant Janet Davis gave me a gentle nudge this week to remind readers that there’s more than one Easter, even in the Christian world.
In the West, days off may be awarded as public holidays, and Easter falls primarily on March 31 this year (2013). In Eastern religions, including much of the Orthodox Church, Easter falls on May 5.
To confuse things further, every culture celebrates differently, and within those cultures communities and families will have other traditions.
For example, I’ll be celebrating this year with my family in England. We’ll be sharing a roast dinner, and we’ll give gifts of eggs in beautiful coloured wrapping to the children. This year, friends have organised Easter egg hunts as well – all of which has far more Pagan origins than the Christian celebration that we are officially awarded time off work for. Yet other friends, colleagues and family members will be celebrating in a more religious manner, attending Church gatherings.
Why share this with you? It’s not possible to assume that everyone will celebrate the same way. In some places Easter is a solemn occasion in others an excuse for a joyous gathering. In some places people will take time off, and many will take advantage of the break for a longer holiday. In others the festival will pass with barely a nod.
This, of course, creates some confusion in the workplace. If you’re talking about an Easter break with colleagues from another country, you may not be talking the same festival or dates.
Our advice is to let the people you work with know at very least when Easter falls for you and what time off you’ll be taking, and ask when Easter falls for them and how they’ll be celebrating. It often feels like its something we should know, when the reality is that it’s not possible to know every holiday for every place, and to assess the importance of that holiday to colleagues. When we work in different offices and different countries, we lose the visual clues and overheard in passing conversations that give us hints as to how someone’s celebrating.
Its particularly hard with a festival like Easter where we often know what it is and when it is – making it easy to assume that it’s the same for others elsewhere.
One of my most unusual Easter clebrations ever was spent when I lived and worked in Southern Spain where a (Spanish) friend was leading part of the Semana Santa penitents march in Malaga. The excitement of watchers was palpable, and the drums beating in the distance, getting closer and closer, were slightly frightening – matched by the conical masks worn by marchers. These masks have a very different association for me personally – being English, albeit well travelled, the only other time I had seen them were in films about the Klu Klux Klan.
So let me throw this open to you: how and when are you celebrating Easter? Which Easter celebrations stand out in your mind? Do let us know – we’d love to hear.