Wednesday, 20 April 2011

a moveable feast

 We were a little late in decking out the Easter trappings this year, so there has not been some much time to enjoy them, but of course the holiday hadn't passed us by. Easter itself is a very strange fusion of Christian, secular and pagan traditions and certainly makes for an awkward alibi and accounting, should humans ever be called for testimony in an alien court of law.
Peeps--sorry, can't begin to explain what that one has do with Easter Sunday. What makes it even more extraordinary, and impenetrable like with the non sequitur and surreal rituals, is that the date of Easter can vary so widely, so as the holiday escapes one sometimes, and is figured using a complex, alchemy of maths called the Computus. This method not only previsions computer science, algorithms, matrices, all these correcting factors that make modern Western calendars fit to a lunar one are very much like the cosmology of Ptolemy, who, while acknowledging a sun-centered universe would be more straightforward, sought to preserve the appearances of a geocentric model with all sorts of celestial wheels, gears and cogs.
Getting the liturgical dates right in general, counterbalanced with the cycle of the Moon and the observable equinoxes and the odd Leap Year, helped keep annual occcurances meaningful, coinciding with Spring, Mid-Winter, etc., and guard against slippage and calendar migration that would eventually, glacially led to Easter overlapping or falling before Christmas. That holiday would be a bizarre affair to decorate for.