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Ryan Hume:Humiliating the king and other spring rites

So the last thing some people want to hear about right before finals is Spring Break and all the wonderful things certain columnists will be doing on their vacation, including a few events that may or may not include a 200-foot sculpture of Michael Jackson crafted entirely out of lime Jell-O and 110-proof vodka, a kiddy pool, and a Siberian circus bear named Vladimir Nabokov, who, when he is not collecting butterflies, enjoys juggling trout while riding a unicycle.

I understand that you don’t want to hear about that.

Some people also would rather not contemplate the fact that Spring Break has digressed to a corporate media event, where MTV gets to send Carson Daily somewhere warm, Pepsi gets to yin its yang, and those creative spectators of cultural decline, the people who concoct those Girls Gone Wild Videos, hold an open casting call in any Mexican coastal town where the English language is more prevalent to anything historically Mexican with the exception of the tequila shot.

I also understand that you might not want to think about this right before that sociology test.

Which is why, dear readers, I won’t speak of such things. There will be plenty of time to speak of corporate manipulation, for it is more frequent than herpes these days (lucky for all of you Spring Breakers – well, maybe …). No, I would like to center this topical exploration upon the spring rituals of the past.

So I’m sure that most of you know that our Spring Break is loosely related to the Christian holiday Easter, where some two or three hundred years after the separation of church and state was put to paper, Easter break was finally known as Spring Break in this secular country. As with many spring festivals of past cultures, the Christian festival of Easter celebrates rebirth – in this case, the resurrection of Christ. Although the actual origins of the name Easter are unknown, most scholars agree with the 8th-century English scholar St. Bede, who believed the name was derived from Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon name for the Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility. A festival was held in her honor upon the vernal equinox, which included rabbits as a symbol of fertility and brightly painted eggs that symbolized the light of the sun.

The vernal equinox, now March 21, has been celebrated as a period of rebirth and was considered the New Year for many ancient cultures, including the Babylonians and the Zoroastrians from regions that are now called the Middle East, Greco-Roman cultures, and the Celts and the Druids, as well as those pagan Anglo-Saxons. Most of these festivals revolved around sex and change. The Babylonians, taking their cue from the Sumerians, enjoyed a festival in which their king was humiliated and pinched by a high priest, then made to bow down before their sun god, Marduk, who then took a bride for the night in the form of a ritual prostitute sleeping alone in a sacred chamber, while everyone else was getting drunk.

The Greeks, taking their cue from the Babylonians, also enjoyed drinking and ritual prostitution, although I will take the time to point out that while I use the term prostitution as a cultural equivalent, the occupation carried none of the negative stereotypes that are associated with the term today and was highly regarded as a religious ritual. And while it was practiced as an occupation, it was not predominately a female occupation as it is believed to be now.

There was usually an animal sacrifice or two, usually a lamb or a ram, or both, and then the animal was cooked and served as part of the festivities. And the Greeks begot the Romans and the Druids became Christians by choice or by fire and the Celts became a basketball team in Boston, and so on and so on, until the creation of Microsoft.

The point of all this babble is no matter what you believe in, spring has always been a time for rebirth, for looking toward the future, for change. So I would like to propose to you all that if you’re going to get drunk over Spring Break, have some change in mind. The future is not static, and you should never expect it to be. I myself am going to be focusing on how to change a 200-foot sculpture of Michael Jackson crafted entirely of lime Jell-O and 110-proof vodka into me being drunk. Everyone can change something.