Some people look forward to Easter. Me, I just don’t see it.
Beyond the religious ramifications involved, the non-religious activities have always seemed a bit more bizarre than usual. Take the Easter Bunny, for example. While much has been made of the rediculous notion of an animal that does not lay eggs delivering and/or hiding them, I think it is more important to point out that we do not eat rabbit for Easter. That might not seem odd on the surface. However, when you consider that every other animal symbolically attached to a holiday invariably ends up being serving up as the main course for that holiday’s meal (with the possible exception of Reindeer), there seems to be even less reason for the rabbit’s role as Easter Mascot. If you forget for a moment about the co-opting of pagan fertility symbols by the Catholic Church and the rest of the religious and historical reasons behind the eggs, and instead consider the logic of the traditions involving them that are in place today, things just don’t add up.
The Easter Bunny is even more bizarre when removed from the land of fantasy and transplanted into the world of "sit on his lap and take a picture." While having your picture taken with Santa Claus can be a scary proposition for some infants, most children that I have seen tend to freak out completely when given the chance to hop up on the Easter Bunny's lap. It seems that most toddlers are aware at even such an innocent age that there is something naturally wrong with being approached by a seven-foot-tall rabbit. Especially one that supposedly lays eggs.
Even as a child, the whole egg thing made no sense to me whatsoever. In retrospect, it makes even less sense. First, consider that the main activity meant for children during this holiday involves eggs. Why eggs? At what point to did children become enamored with eggs? Most children seem to live their lives happily oblivious to the existence of eggs on any real level of importance, so why suddenly focus their attention on them on this particular week? Christmas has toys; kids love toys. Thanksgiving has food and family; the kids get their own table for dinner. Halloween has candy; ‘nuff said. Then there’s Easter. Hey kid, would you like an egg?
So, now that children have been given this otherwise mundane edible object to focus on, what ingredient is thrown into the mix? Dyes. Under normal conditions, no mother in their right mind would even contemplate giving their young children access to a wide variety of colorful inks and dyes. Yet here they find themselves, pressured by a holiday they did not create, to place a vast array of destructive coloring agents at the children’s fingertips, fingertips which invariable end up more colorful than the eggs.
Later, after the children spend hours unsuccessfully attempting to make their sloppy dye-water soaked eggs look anything like the skillfully colored works of art on the cover of the PAAS egg dye kit, comes the next act of madness. What do the adults do with the eggs that their kids have so painstakingly decorated? They hide them. Then, if that is not cruel enough, they then force them to seek out the hidden eggs in what is referred to with overt violent imagery as a “Hunt”. While this may seem fun to the younger children who have yet to fully grasp the concept of object permanence, older children are more likely to remember the feelings of shame and failure after vainly searching for that last missing egg their parents were convinced would be any easy find behind the stack of phonebooks next to the reading lamp.
When the location of the last egg is finally revealed to the now disheartened child by their slightly irritated parents, what final reward awaits them? Why, a large number of brightly colored hard-boiled eggs, of course! A grander prize could truly not be envisioned, for what child does not dream of spending a leisurely Sunday afternoon reenacting the eating contest scene from Cool Hand Luke? However, just in case the child does not happen to be a Steve McQueen fan, there is a consolation prize: a cheap wicker basket filled with green shredded plastic and foil-wrapped chocolates that will invariably melt before they can be eaten.
This brings us to the most incomprehensible egg-related aspect of the American Easter Tradition: The Cadbury Egg. Somehow, the brilliant minds at Cadbury decided that while an egg-shaped chocolate is a good sell, it would be even better if they could fill the chocolate egg with a gooey, sticky, mucus-reminiscent glob of glucose sludge with a flavor hovering delicately between stale caramel, thick corn syrup, and liquefied chalk. As far as I can tell, the logic behind this move is that the only thing better than ruining the taste of a chocolate treat is to remind the individual eating the confection of the appetizing concept of eating a raw egg. Even more remarkably, they managed to convince people that they liked it, no doubt with the help of the same marketing geniuses who convinced millions of people that sugar-based Styrofoam snacks actually taste better if you call the Peeps. Then again, there are the Easter Bonnets. As illogical and confusing as the whole ritual seems, the fact that the celebration also involves people wearing stupid-looking hats on purpose almost makes the whole thing worthwhile.