Which came first, the bunny or the egg? It is a question which has baffled philosophers1 since the dawn of time4.
The real question is: which came first, the quaint custom surrounding a particular commemoration or the highly unlikely5 explanation of its origin which insists said tradition is far more ancient than it could reasonably be? Which may seem a silly question, because obviously the post-dated fantastical explanation of a custom or tradition wouldn’t have any need to be concocted until after the custom or tradition had come into existence, right9?
I don’t have a good answer, other than to say there is no such thing as too many excuses to indulge in chocolate22.
1. Or at least preschoolers2.
2. And smart-ass bloggers3.
3. Who, maturity-wise, often lag far behind the average preschool child.
4. Or, at least since the 19th Century, which is when the first contemporaneous reports of giving children decorated eggs at Easter are found, as well as the invention of the first “Easter Card” when one publisher first offered for sale stationary pre-printed with a drawing of a bunny and an Easter greeting.
5. Don’t get me started on just how ludicrous the various Ishtar/Mithra/Ēostre6 explanations are.
6. Bede’s Latin was superb and he is generally considered a good historical source, don’t get me wrong, but he wrote De temporum ratione with at least two political agendas in mind: a) the unification of the various ethnic groups of Britain into one nation7, and b) his animosity to the British method of calculating the date of Easter8.
7. Which was far from a foregone conclusion in the year 725 AD when Bede wrote that treatise.
8. A controversy which has divided the church for much of its history. Just last night our waitress, who was raised in the Eastern Orthodox Church, was commenting on the fact that her relatives back home aren’t celebrating Easter until May 5, as the resolution adopted at the Summit of Alepo, Syria by the World Council of Churches in 1997 has still not been put into effect.
9. Trying to inject logic into a discussion like this is clearly a fool’s errand10.
10. Mind you, as foolish as it may be, it can also be a lot of fun. Not unlike the debate about whether Jesus was a Zombie or a Lich which my husband interrupted my writing to give me a play-by-play of11.
11. At the time, the Lich partisans were deeply engaged in a discussion of what object functioned as his phylactery1216
12. The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons form of a horcrux13.
13. The Harry Potter-verse version of a muo-ping14.
14. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer-verse version of a soul jar15
15. A container or object which holds all or part of a person’s soul (or life, or heart) outside of their body, thus makes that person immortal and/or invulnerable so long as the Soul Jar remains intact.
16. The leading candidates being the Cross itself, the chalice that caught his blood, or the enchanted bread17 he fed his disciples at the Last Supper. All of which are, of course, incorrect20.
17. Which had spawned a mini debate about whether that meant that each of the 12 disciples as a Soul Container, or was the bread enchanted somehow to be indigestible21.
18. In which case, is the real reason Judas hung himself19 to try to thwart Jesus’ revivification?
19. Assuming you believe he did hang himself. Or was it murder?
20. Because obviously the place he hid his soul was the Keys that he gave to Peter. Why else has the elaborate system of selecting who gets to hold those keys evolved into the bizarre ritual of the Conclave of Cardinals that gather to select a new Pope?
21. Which leads to gross implications that I do not want to contemplate!
22. Make mine dark, please!