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Delenn of Mir and John Sheridan
Planting the Future
As with almost all Christian holidays, Easter has a secular side as well. The dichotomous nature of Easter and its symbols, however, is not necessarily a modern fabrication.
Easter has always had its non-religious side. In fact, Easter was originally a pagan festival. It was co-opted by Christian missionaries starting in the second century CE.
The ancient Saxons celebrated the return of spring with an uproarious festival commemorating their goddess of offspring and of springtime, Eastre. When the second-century Christian missionaries encountered the tribes of the north with their pagan celebrations, they do what Christian missionaries have always done; they attempted to convert them to Christianity. They did so, however, in a clandestine manner.
It would have been dangerous for the very early Christian converts to celebrate their holy days with observances that did not coincide with celebrations that already existed. To save lives, the missionaries decided to spread their dogma slowly throughout the populations by allowing them to continue to celebrate pagan feasts, but to do so in a Christian manner.
As it happened, the pagan festival of Eastre occurred at the same time of year as the Christian observance of the Resurrection of Christ. It made sense, therefore, to alter the festival itself, to make it a Christian observance as pagans were slowly indoctrinated. The early name, Eastre, was eventually changed to its modern spelling, Easter.
The Date of Easter
Prior to A.D. 325, Easter was variously celebrated on different days of the week, including Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In that year, the Council of Nicaea was convened by emperor Constantine. It issued the Easter Rule which states that Easter shall be celebrated on the first Sunday that occurs after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. The "full moon" in the rule is the ecclesiastical full moon, which is defined as the fourteenth day of a tabular lunation, where day 1 corresponds to the ecclesiastical New Moon. It does not always occur on the same date as the astronomical full moon. The ecclesiastical "vernal equinox" is always on March 21. Therefore, Easter must be celebrated on a Sunday between the dates of March 22 and April 25.
The Lenten Season
Lent is the forty-six day period just prior to Easter Sunday. It begins on Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday") is a celebration, sometimes called "Carnival," practiced around the world, on the Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday. It was designed as a way to "get it all out" before the sacrifices of Lent began. New Orleans is the focal point of Mardi Gras celebrations in the U.S. Read about the religious meanings of the Lenten Season.
The Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny is not a modern invention. The symbol originated with the pagan festival of Eastre. The goddess, Eastre, was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons through her earthly symbol, the rabbit.
The Germans brought the symbol of the Easter rabbit to America. It was widely ignored by other Christians until shortly after the Civil War. In fact, Easter itself was not widely celebrated in America until after that time.
The Easter Egg
As with the Easter Bunny and the holiday itself, the Easter Egg predates the Christian holiday of Easter. The exchange of eggs in the springtime is a custom that was centuries old when Easter was first celebrated by Christians.
From the earliest times, the egg was a symbol of birth in most cultures. Eggs were often wrapped in gold leaf or, if you were a peasant, colored brightly by boiling them with the leaves or petals of certain flowers.
Today, children hunt colored eggs and place them in Easter baskets along with the modern version of real Easter eggs - those made of plastic or chocolate candy.
John hit the END button on his handheld screen and turned in his chair to look at his wife, Delenn. She was standing in front of the refrigeration unit, peering inside, a frown etched over her beautiful features. In fact, she had been in that same position since John started to read.
"What's wrong, honey?" John stood from the small kitchen table. He walked to the other side of the brightly lit room, the large window framing the entire kitchen, allowing the mid-morning sun to beam its life-giving rays onto their refreshed bodies. It had been a long time, a very long time since John had seen or felt a real sunrise.
"I don't know what I want for breakfast." Delenn closed the refrigerator door and turned to John, who was pouring himself a second cup of coffee—another perk of living on a planet versus a space station, he thought. It had only been two weeks but John was already feeling the wondrous effects of waking up to the chirping of real birds and the glow of two moons lulling him to sleep. In fact, John's entire body felt relaxed, rejuvenated, reborn.
John took a tentative sip from the hot brew, Minbari coffee beans so much stronger, more potent than those grown on Earth. But it was good nonetheless, the grounds a taste John was quickly becoming accustomed to. Now, if only he could find something as equally palatable for his frowning wife.
"I can make you one of my world famous shakes." Delenn's frown lines grew even deeper, almost as deep as the purple in her bathrobe.
Delenn sat in a chair opposite where John had been sitting, a heavy sigh matching the roughness with which she claimed the chair. And that was a switch. John was normally the one who hated mornings. In fact, it took every bit of willpower he had to marshal the strength to pull himself out of bed each morning. On the other hand, Delenn, god bless her Minbari soul, was a bright eyed, ready to go, morning person.
Or at least she was, the first trimester of her pregnancy sapping all her natural vitality. So whereas John found nothing but pleasure living on a planet as beautiful and intriguing as his wife, Delenn felt only the darkness of long winter months—a groundhog yet to see her shadow, forecasting better times to come.
But it was more than that, John knew. Delenn still missed Lennier. And if he wasn't mistaken, his wife also harbored more than her fair share of guilt concerning the unfortunate decision Lennier made that fateful day aboard the White Star.
And while John found it easy to forgive Lennier his trespass, he wasn't so magnanimous to believe that it wasn't hard to forgive when he didn't have to see Lennier's face hovering about Delenn every day, waiting for a morsel of affection from her. And, yes, in John's weak more jealous moments, he wondered how Delenn had not seen it earlier, if she had done something inadvertently, said something, even the tiniest, most innocent gesture, that could've given Lennier the slightest hope that she would one day return his love.
They were foolish, dangerous thoughts, John knew. But he sometimes contemplated the paths he and Delenn had taken in their lives that led them to this place, together, expecting a son. And the paths Lennier had taken, with Delenn by his side, and alone, like he was now.
John spared his wife a loving glance, thinking how radiant she appeared with her hair pulled up off her neck into a neat bun, a style she rarely wore her hair in, but one that displayed the luscious line of her exquisite neck. The neck he so very much enjoyed sliding his tongue against, pressing firm at the spot right above her collarbone that made her squeal in the most sinfully delightful way.
And John thought Delenn would look even more radiant when she was full and heavy with their child, the one that was giving her body so much trouble as of late. Delenn's hormones were playing havoc with her emotions, turning his normally placid wife into an impatient, irritable, irrational shell of her normal self. Diplomacy be damned when she got into one of her moods, her too Human tendency to swear reared its ugly head when provoked, Delenn maintaining just enough sanity to only go supernova in his presence.
"I'm tired of only being able to keep down one of your shakes," she said, eyeing his plate of bacon and eggs longingly. Well, they weren't exactly bacon and eggs, but it was the closest Minbar had to the traditional Earth food, the distinction in taste and texture insignificant, the precise name of the items even less important. Delenn had hired them an excellent cook, too bad she was yet to be a recipient of one of Shaymar's delicious meals. John could definitely get used to such pampering, hell, he already had.
And a smidge of guilt arose within. If anyone would've told him he would be happier about the move to Minbar than Delenn, John would've called them a liar. Yet the truth was evident. Which was why John was researching Easter, he wanted to know what Delenn had learned about the holiday before he began his week of seduction and soothing.
"The morning sickness won't last forever, honey," he tried to reassure. The scathing look she gave him said she wasn't buying it.
She huffed and gave his plate of food another wistful look. "Fine, John, I'll partake of one of those fruity drinks of yours." Delenn shrugged. "I guess it's a better option than starving or disgracing myself by eating a forkful of your ler'nal, forcing me to flee in search of the nearest bathroom.
Ler'nal? John looked at his plate, wondering which of the two items that was.
"A shake it is then." He smiled, hoping Delenn would return the good feeling. She didn't. John tried another tactic. "Tell me of your spring holiday, the one you mentioned a week ago."
Delenn paused, considered him with quizzical eyes, and then gave him the smile that made his heart swell, as well as other regions of his body. And dammit, they hadn't made love in two freaking weeks. And who's fault was that? His.
Perhaps, but John was yet to concede that point. No, he still firmly blamed Minbar for their overzealous vaccination laws. Sure, all planets had vaccinations rules and procedures. It was a common enough protocol for a visitor to a planet to have a battery of vaccinations before entering the planet. In fact, Stephen made sure every person who lived on and visited Babylon 5, especially the crew, was up-to-date with their shots.
And, yes, Stephen had arranged for John to take the shots Minbar required before his departure. And, yes, John procrastinated, and only got around to making time to go to Medlab a day before he and Delenn were scheduled to leave. So, okay, maybe that was his fault. But the additional shots he was ordered to take once arriving, by Minbar's version of an OBGYN, was the final straw.
And, no, even that wasn't entirely true. The final straw had been when the doctor informed them that they needed to abstain from sex for three weeks until the vaccination had completely cleared his body, and it was clear that he would be of no threat to Delenn or the baby.
John was pretty sure if he had anything to spread to his wife or unborn, it was past the point of no return. And he said as much, perhaps a tad bit more crass than the situation warranted. But the truth was the truth, he and Delenn had a very active sex life, and if he was contagious, well, she damn sure was a willing recipient.
Then the good doctor had given John the Minbari version of I can't believe someone like her hooked up with a moron like you look and John had blanched, feeling like an ogre for not wanting to go without. But damn, he and Delenn had waited so long to make love, and now they could without a nauseating number of rituals to perform first.
And what was it that John didn't understand? Well, it wasn't that the doctor thought John was at risk of unknowingly passing on some lethal pathogen to his family. No, the composition of the female hormone altered during Minbari pregnancy, provided additional nutrients to both mother and child. And while such an alteration was of benefit to the mother, Minbari had discovered a long time ago that outside of a woman's body, it was toxic. Similar in the way alcohol consumption was dangerous to them. While Minbari males have a natural immunity to the hormone, other races did not, body fluid— blood, saliva, vaginal secretion,—were obvious sources of transference. And Delenn was still Minbari enough in physiology to secrete the hormone and not be negatively affected.
The bottom line, the vaccination was for his protection, not Delenn's. And didn't that just make John feel like a jerk. Yet he and Delenn had been intimate since her pregnancy and he felt fine. But Delenn nor the doctor were willing to take any unnecessary chances, so he allowed the blasted shots, and hadn't had sex with his wife in fourteen days, five hours, and too many seconds.
"It pleases me," Delenn began, bringing his attention back to the question he posed and away from how thoroughly he was going to ravish her at week's end, "when you take an interest in Minbari customs and culture."
The proud look alone she gave him was enough to make John turn away from Delenn in search of the blender he'd brought with him from Babylon 5. Yeah, Delenn hadn't made the last two weeks easy on him. Pregnancy may have set in motion unpredictable mood swings, but her libido was as strong and vibrant as ever. Perhaps even more so, this, ironically, was a source of her frustration.
And, yes, turning down an amorous Delenn was like failing to breathe—deadly, dangerous, and all together stupid. But John held tightly to his self-control, knowing once Delenn was right of mind she would rake herself over the coals for failing to adhere to a very practical medical dictate, feeling unreasonably guilty that she'd somehow endangered John's safety. No. As much as John wanted his wife, he wouldn't do that to her. It could wait. And John knew exactly how much longer he would have to wait, down to the second.
"Valen said the Valzah'bar Festival provides a way to connect with Minbar through food, creative activities, workshops, music, ceremonies, and folklore. Spring celebrates the awakening of nature after winter, a time of new growth and potential, a time for all that is new and possible, a time to let go of whatever may be hindering our own growth! It is a time for meditation to bring us out of our winter period of reflection, and make a symbolic planting of seeds representing our intentions, wishes and goals that we will nurture and grow over the coming months – a true celebration of rebirthing your life and nature itself!"
"That's beautiful, Delenn." John removed the fresh fruit from the refrigeration unit, removed a cutting board from one of the drawers, and began to slice the fruit, not too small, just enough to fit inside the blender.
And wasn't that typical of Minbari to have such a flowery way of describing their own festival while outlining the customs of another—like Easter—in such sterile sentiments. Not that what John had read about Easter from the Minbari virtual library uploaded on his palm unit was inaccurate per se. It just . . . well, it lacked the warm fuzzy feeling he knew Easter to be, the way spring was to him when he was a kid, itching to be free from school, to play, laugh, and just have fun.
John wanted that for Delenn, but spring on Minbar was months away. He didn't care, Delenn needed spring and he would bring it to her—John Sheridan style.