April 11, 2004

Easter Today

by Nick Morgan

The influence of The Passion of the Christ has proven to be widespread and various (recall the criminal confession and heart attack stories). So I can't say I'm entirely surprised to hear about this perversion of Easter:

    A church trying to teach about the crucifixion of Jesus performed an Easter show with actors whipping the Easter bunny and breaking eggs, upsetting several parents and young children. [link from Obscure Store]

Now, is this straight-forward iconoclasm, or is it a genuine confusion about the symbology of modern Easter? Not that the symbology makes any sense to begin with (bunnies don't lay eggs, eggs have no connection to chocolate, and all of the above bear only a tenuous relation to Christ's resurrection). From the beginning, Easter was the Christian co-opting of a pagan ritual of fertility (honoring the Saxon goddess, Eastre, to whom the ever-breeding rabbits were sacred). Then the rabbit picked up some magical, colored-egg hiding tendencies from old German lore. Finally, and obviously: enter merciless American commercialism.

For a holiday subject to so many unrelated cultural influences, I'm almost a little worried that Mel Gibson's peculiar Christian savagery will make yet another contribution to this holiday nonsense. But somehow I think people would rather the Easter Bunny not bear that cross.

April 11, 2004 12:56 PM | TrackBack

Certain eastern Christian religions of long standing have an Easter custom involving dyed hard boiled egg contests where one parishioner with his hard boiled eggs challenges another parishioner with egg tapping, the winner getting the oppenent's cracked egg. However, bunnies are not involved. It's just the old shell game. The ultimate winner then dines on egg salad for weeks, which is not a clear win-win situation. As for the fertility rites involving rabbits, keep in mind that they used to be sacrificed for testing pregnancies before the availability of kits in drug stores. (I recall the expression: "The rabbitt died!" - but I'm not sure whether this was good news or bad news.)

Posted by: Shag from Brookline at April 11, 2004 02:43 PM

You're being rather judgmental, aren't you? You don't know what kind of bunny this was; and, moreover, they might not have had one of these handy.

Posted by: Brian at April 12, 2004 05:11 AM
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