Written in 2011:
As a child, I was never curious enough to ask why chicken or candy Easter eggs were delivered by a rabbit. Shouldn’t the eggs be delivered by an Easter chicken? Now, I understand that rabbits multiply, and perhaps their greater number contributed to a better and more efficient distribution system. But shouldn’t the poor hen get credit for her hard work in making the eggs?
Actually, the egg is a pagan symbol of the rebirth of the Earth, and was adopted by early Christians as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. One of the oldest customs is to paint or dye the eggs into colorful objects of art. In modern times, chocolate and plastic Easter eggs have replaced real chicken eggs. Folklore says that it is the Easter Bunny who hides the eggs for children to find. The real question is, where or from whom, did the Easter Bunny steal the eggs?
So, I will skip most of the religious history of Easter, the egg, and its trappings. I want to focus on the Easter Bunny. I made a vow a few years ago to no longer eat rabbit. Dear friend Donna has a wonderful, and handsome pet rabbit, named James. In his honor, I no longer eat rabbit, or even kiss a rabbit’s foot for luck. I was hard pressed one cold and dark evening in Valparaiso, Chile to find a decent meal on a Sunday night. The chef claimed he was the best rabbit chef in all of Chile. Not so.
It turns out that I should be giving up eggs for lent, as they did long ago. An egg was a special treat after a long period of self denial. Hardboiled eggs were died red to represent Christ’s blood. The children kept the red eggs as a talisman for good health in the ensuing twelve months. Could this be the origin of the Red Egg, and Red Hat parties? In Europe, red eggs are still buried on farm land and vineyards to ensure bountiful crops, and as protection from lightning and hail.
Sir James of Sunspring Court
But decorating Easter eggs is still a great tradition. As children, decorating the eggs was actually more fun that the Easter egg hunt or awakening to an Easter basket full of candy. Of course, most of the eggs spoiled, since we chose to look at them, rather than eat them. We chose our favorite color. Since there were four of us, we got three eggs each to dye and decorate. I think I always chose blue. We preferred to use the little paste-on tattoos on our legs and arms, rather than place them on the eggs.
A prize is generally offered to the child collecting the most eggs. In our small town, the egg hunt was focused on several “special eggs”. Most of the eggs were candy, but a few decorated chicken eggs were hidden. If we found one of these, a huge Easter basket was the reward. Of course, I never did find one of those, since I was so busy gathering the candy eggs. It could not have been the most sanitary of activities, in a public park, with rodents and dogs roaming the grounds. With my kids, we used plastic eggs, filled with either jelly beans, other candy, or money. Buddy does not show much interest in hunting Easter eggs.
But it was fun! Easter, much like other holidays of religious origin or significance, have become too commercialized. I wonder if you stopped ten people under the age of thirty, and ask if they knew the origin of Easter? My guess would be less than 50%. Sad but true.
Easter Sunday aside, let’s just keep following the Governor’s guidelines. I am grateful to have my brother and his wife (and so many great cousins) so near and so close. I dedicate all of my Easter eggs to you!!!