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The role of technology in the modern Easter tradition

Easter is the highest festival of Christianity. Every year, believers celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead – and indirectly the associated promise of eternal life. Although Easter marks the central point of the Christian faith, it clearly takes a back seat to Christmas in public perception. However, this does not mean that it is not associated with specific traditions in local society. From fasting on Good Friday and Easter mass on Easter Sunday to the Easter egg hunt on the same day, numerous moments of a recent Easter tradition can be identified, which has both religious and secular elements. Like all social phenomena that are bound to a specific time and epoch, Easter in its specific manifestations is also linked to ideological, organizational and technical changes in the reference society. Corresponding changes in the celebration of Easter can be observed in particular against the backdrop of the rapid introduction of ever more technological innovations into everyday life over the past decade. But what exactly is the role of technology in the modern Easter tradition? What influence do new technologies have on the way we celebrate Easter?

Easter mass via livestream

The possibility of livestreams has not directly changed the tradition, but has made it more flexible in terms of location. During the pandemic in particular, many churches have started to make at least special services available via live streaming on the internet. The Vatican has also created a corresponding service: The Easter mass with the Pope is also broadcast on the internet via Catholic TV stations. This in turn means that the faithful and other interested parties can attend the mass without having to make the journey to the Vatican. The advantage here is enormous: participation is possible even without great financial or time resources, and barriers are broken down. The technical innovation also makes sense in view of the considerable ageing of the main target group for the relevant services: a considerable proportion of the faithful are older and no longer mobile. Even traveling to church in their own home town can become an insurmountable obstacle. The live transmission of countless church services via TV and the internet means that those concerned still have the opportunity to receive the Easter mass.

However, this is also a disadvantage of attending from a distance. The livestream allows passive listening and watching, but not active participation in the service. However, this is essential for many believers: from singing in the community to receiving the Easter blessing in person to taking the host, many essential elements of the service cannot simply be transmitted remotely. It is therefore clear that while technical innovations ensure low-threshold access, they cannot completely replace the full personal experience.

Virtual family gatherings

Virtual family reunions are not uncommon at Easter

The situation is very similar outside of the religious ceremony. For many people, a large family reunion at Easter is also part of the familiar routine. However, against the backdrop of a globalized world in which relocations to distant areas are no longer a rarity and individual family members are hundreds or even thousands of kilometers apart, this is significantly more difficult to implement than it was just a few decades ago, when private and professional life usually unfolded in a comparatively narrow circle around the place of origin.

Video chat technologies such as Zoom or Skype offer the opportunity to overcome these distances, at least virtually – and to sit at the Easter table via video chat. Here, too, the pandemic can be seen as an accelerator of pre-existing processes: Millions of people have resorted to video chat technologies for the first time and moved family gatherings entirely or partially into virtual space. The experience of the practicality of such an approach means that such technologies have become established in our everyday lives – and are now also being used at Easter: The fact that the uncle who has moved to Australia cannot be there on Easter Sunday is no longer an incontrovertible fact in this day and age. But here, too, the limits of technical possibilities become apparent: Conversations at the coffee table are possible, but those who are not physically present will not be able to taste the Easter cake. Nevertheless, we can speak of a ground-breaking change here, which is also noticeable at Easter.

Digital Easter egg hunt

Easter eggs can now also be searched for digitally

However, modern technologies are not only offering exciting changes to the Easter tradition for adults. Children are also affected. For them, the Easter egg hunt is still the highlight of the highest Christian festival. Countless children wander around gardens, parks and living rooms on the morning of Easter Sunday in search of hidden Easter eggs, chocolates and other treats. Most readers will be able to painfully confirm from their own experience that the weather can quickly become a spoilsport, especially when searching outdoors. But even indoors, the search for Easter presents does not always run smoothly: a lack of space is a common phenomenon that can lead to difficulties.

A virtual Easter egg hunt promises at least partial relief in these cases. As part of the pandemic, several apps have been developed that enable Easter egg hunts in augmented reality. Using these apps (such as Easter Egg Hunt), person A can hide virtual Easter eggs in the AR environment; the mode is then switched to search and the cell phone is passed on to person B, who then gains access to the AR world and can set off on the search. This semi-digitalized search can be combined with the delivery of physical gifts as equivalents to the virtual Easter eggs found. While this clearly takes a back seat to the fun of the traditional egg hunt, it can certainly be a convincing emergency solution in difficult spatial situations – and thus demonstrate both the strengths and weaknesses of the virtualization of Easter traditions.

Conclusion: New technologies and old Easter traditions

In conclusion, the three examples given show that new technologies are not fundamentally changing our way of celebrating Easter, but are shifting it in certain areas. It can be observed that old traditions are not disappearing, but are being expanded to include digital elements. In addition, these are being used as a substitute for traditional face-to-face aspects of Easter celebrations, although these are not usually the first choice. The influence of new technologies on the Easter tradition is therefore rather small overall, but can be used positively in individual cases.

Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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Easter is the highest festival of Christianity. Every year, believers celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead – and indirectly the associated promise of eternal life. Although Easter marks the central point of the Christian faith, it clearly takes a back seat to Christmas in public perception. However, this does not mean that … (Weiterlesen...)

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