I can’t say I do much for Easter as an adult, but I definitely have memories of hunting for eggs in my childhood. I remember going to church services as well, but I’m generally a defender of secular aspects of religious holidays. Beth and I dyed eggs a few times as adults, but honestly it got kind of boring. Of course, a lot of Secular Easter is really just a celebration of spring in general. I found a link yesterday to this article, which points out the fallacies in the idea of Easter being a co-opted pagan festival. I’d mentioned the proposed link between the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre and rabbits before, but even then it seemed a bit suspicious. If Bede provided the only existing evidence for this deity, and all we really know is that she was somehow associated with spring, how would we know whether she had anything to do with bunnies? The article also has a bit on the Scottish Presbyterian minister Alexander Hislop, who decided that hot cross buns and colored eggs were Babylonian traditions that Catholics brought to Britain. I’ve written about him before, but it’s strange that atheists would pick up on this kind of weird fundamentalist conspiracy theory. It’s not at all weird that Jack Chick would, though. We did have Easter dinner at Beth’s mom’s house, and she made us Easter baskets.
Aside from this, we also watched a few old Easter specials on Saturday night.
A Family Circus Easter – I don’t think I’d seen this before, but I know Beth had, as she’s brought up the Easter Bunny’s song a few times. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but not THAT far ahead, as I can’t say too much happens here. I mean, it’s a Family Circus special, so it’s pretty slow and mostly about kids being naive. As the family dyes eggs, Dolly is concerned that PJ won’t be able to find any of them after the Bunny hides them. Apparently the lagomorph has yet to grasp the concept of babies. Dolly asks why the Bunny hides eggs at all, and Mommy says, “I don’t think anyone has ever asked that.” Are the Keane parents trying to discourage curiosity? There’s a lot of dogmatism going on in that household. Dolly gets Billy and Jeffy up early to put some eggs in obvious places. Then they have the idea to set a trap for the Easter Bunny so he can’t hide the eggs again, and they really do catch a rabbit, which goes on to scare their dog Barfy. PJ does eventually find an egg, but only after Jeffy finds a bunch of ones that he’d hid himself. Then the kids look into a panoramic egg and enter into a fantasy sequence featuring a yellow Easter Bunny with the voice of Dizzy Gillespie. He sings a seemingly eternal song while playing the calliope and appearing and disappearing a lot.
Honestly, I think this description makes it sound more entertaining than it really is. The song is pretty obnoxiously catchy, though. The Bebop Bunny’s point seems to be that he hides the eggs because it would be too easy and not rewarding otherwise, although of course that doesn’t explain why the tradition exists at all.
It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown – I’m not sure if I saw this as a kid. I remember seeing a lot of weird Peanuts special as a kid, so it’s certainly possible, but I didn’t have specific memories of it. It seems rather slight compared to other ones, but also perhaps a bit more focused, albeit still with a lot of padding. One such bit is a fantasy sequence with Snoopy going inside a panoramic egg, something that must have been ubiquitous at the time. I can’t recall having seen a real one before, but apparently they date back to the Victorian era, although they’re much less common nowadays. The outside is edible sugar, but they tended to be kept rather than eaten. The scene in this cartoon has Snoopy dancing with bunnies.
There are a few somewhat intertwined stories in this special. In one, Peppermint Patty tries to teach Marcie how to dye eggs, but Marcie just can’t grasp the idea of hard-boiling them, instead trying to fry them, toast them, and make them into soup. I can buy that her family didn’t dye eggs for whatever reason, but her mistakes don’t seem like anything a human child would do. And isn’t she normally the more level-headed of the two? But I guess Peanuts characters can contain multitudes, like how Linus is scholarly and memorizes Bible passages and such, but also tends to get his holiday traditions confused. He’s at it again here, insisting that the Easter Beagle will color and distribute Easter eggs. Sally specifically mentions the Great Pumpkin incident (hey, continuity!), but goes along with Linus anyway. Oh, and speaking of Bible passages, there’s no mention of Jesus here, despite the fact that Easter is more significant to Christianity than Christmas. Lucy insists on dyeing eggs, hiding them, and finding them all by herself. Maybe she needs a visit from Dizzy Gillespie. And Snoopy buys a birdhouse for Woodstock when his nest gets flooded (I don’t know where he got the money, but stranger things have happened with that dog), and the bird decorates it as a weird seventies bachelor pad.
There’s a less dated joke about stores putting out Christmas stuff really early, and a reference to the then-current recurring gag of Patty not realizing Snoopy is a dog. Linus is finally vindicated when the Easter Beagle does show up, except Snoopy just hands out the eggs that Lucy had hidden earlier, and doesn’t even have enough to give one to Charlie Brown. Lucy gets mad about it, but when she confronts Snoopy, she not only forgives him but lets him kiss her without her typical freak-out.