Sarah Todd: Why I’m taking my children to church this Easter

The Queen at this year's Maundy Thursday service in Windsor.
The Queen at this year's Maundy Thursday service in Windsor.
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EASTER has become a modern-day commercial circus and any pretence of religious significance seems to have gone completely out of the window.

Yes, it’s a bit bah-humbug, but this reporter won’t be letting her offspring so much as look at a chocolate egg tomorrow until they’ve been to church.

There’s no point pretending they’ll go happily of their own free will.

There will be moaning and groaning and – definitely – no joyous spring lamb-like gambolling up the church steps.

But we will be there.

Having anything to do with the orgy of excess that Easter has become seems fundamentally wrong without at least the briefest of nods to You-Know-Who.

Talking of pretending, it would be wrong to make out yours truly is a candidate to become this newspaper’s religious affairs correspondent.

Time and again the awful things that happen in the world, such as this week’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, stir feelings of doubt rather than belief.

On a personal note, going to church is more about taking a moment from the hurly-burly of busy family life.

The peace and quiet it affords is very appealing.

In an age when people don’t even seem embarrassed anymore if their mobile ‘phones go off in cinemas and theatres, church is probably the only place left where the distractions of modern life are left at the threshold.

It’s got to be good to take a little bit of time to think about other people.

To reflect on the bigger picture. It’s so easy to get hung-up about our own lives and laments.

In common with many other well-meaning but fundamentally useless families, we only manage to go to church at high days and holidays – Christenings, weddings, Christmas, Easter and Harvest Festival. The latter being the favourite; so long as there’s a good sing of We Plough the Fields and Scatter rather than modern mumbo-jumbo.

One year the vicar never even mentioned the F (farming) word; it was almost as if agriculture was a dirty word.

But back to Easter. When did it become to send cards and decorate our houses?

If all the advertising is to be believed, it’s interior design suicide to simply stick a bunch of daffodils in a jug on the windowsill like our mothers and grandmothers would have done.

We should have spent at least the last month spray-painting twigs and hanging them with hand-crafted adornments.

Whatever happened to the simply decorated hard-boiled egg?

Ah, hard-boiled eggs.

Going to a primary school adjacent to a hill was brilliant for a) sledging and b) egg rolling.

We didn’t need specially-bought costumes or headbands decorated with bunny-ears like today’s over-indulged children. We just chucked eggs down a hill. Mind you, there is probably some health and safety guideline against it these days.

It feels like we’ve only just come through the other side of the culinary onslaught that is Christmas, but Mary Berry herself is back on our television screens to hold our hands as we create the perfect Easter feast.

A bit of a roast would be alright; but do we really need to go to the full starter and after-dinner-mint proportions that the supermarkets push down our throats?

While we’re mentioning supermarkets, there’s something about the dedication of an aisle – or even two – at this time of year to branded chocolate eggs and other seasonal gifts that makes the blood boil.

Who decreed that we have to spend, spend, spend just because it’s Easter?

Somebody clever could make a really good analogy about the aisles – in supermarkets rather than churches – that the average family now worships at.

It’s no longer enough to give a simple chocolate egg. There are the fluffy bunnies, T-shirts and pyjamas emblazoned with chicks and, of course, some special Easter-themed plates to serve the obligatory roast lamb on.

Is this excess really what Jesus died on the cross for?

Talking of the cross, even the humble hot cross bun has been messed around with.

Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal has made a range of flavours that include Earl Grey and mandarin, cherry bakewell and acacia honey and ginger. When did we, as a nation, start thinking we needed more than a plain – traditional – hot cross bun?

Fair enough, a bit of butter melting on top, but Earl grey and mandarin... Is he having a laugh?

There is a lot to celebrate at Easter, even if, for many, it’s
not about much more than getting a few days off work or school.

What we should resist is the creeping commercialism of the occasion. Tesco and Sainsbury’s stores started selling Easter eggs on New Year’s Day this year.

Like too much chocolate, such statistics should make us feel sick.

 Sarah Todd is a former editor of Yorkshire Life magazine. She is a farmer’s daughter, mother and journalist specialising in country life.