Bunny Boiler

(Stock image)

(Stock image)

It was not too long into the month of January that many shops, terrified by the festive void left over by Christmas, began to put their Easter eggs out on display front and centre. The moral of the story is: never let accurate dates get in the way of a cynical money-making campaign.

Easter has always been a curious event on the calendar. Given how over-commercialised it has become, one would think that the events of Calvary involved the Easter Bunny dying for our sins, allowing us to bask in benevolent chocolatey goodness, instead of Jesus of Nazareth taking one for the global team.

It is a special time meant to commemorate the ultimate sacrifice, and yet the main sacrifice one can imagine making in modern Ireland during this time is the willingness to forgo the ninth Mars Bar egg in a row.

I, myself have good reason for taking a dim view of the Easter egg tradition, ever since the first moment I realised that the oversized version of the Creme Egg did not contain the same delightful contents of its miniature form. Needless to say, that spoiled everything.

For all the talk of sacrifice and redemption, Easter also has its roots planted deeply in pagan mythology. The name Easter is derived from the great northern goddess Eostre, whose symbol was a rabbit or hare, thus explaining the origins of the Easter Bunny (sorry kids!). Exchange of eggs was also a familiar custom in those ancient times.

Easter began as a secular celebration of the spring equinox, coinciding with the Christian celebration of the Resurrection. There were many examples of this: the Sumerian goddess Inanna was hung naked from a stake and then resurrected from the underworld, and the followers of Mithras also recognised the spring equinox.

The Cybele cult flourished on today’s Vatican Hill. According to them, Cybele’s lover Attis was born of a virgin, died and was reborn annually. This spring festival began as a “day of blood” on Black Friday, and spanned three days in recognition of the resurrection.

There was violent conflict in the early days of Christianity between the rival groups over whose god was the true one (always nice to see Christian love in action). Eventually, Christianity found an accommodation with the pagan Spring festival, as it offered them a way of creating new converts. When you can’t beat ‘em, convert ‘em!

All of these traditions have led us to our current sticky situation (all puns intended) where every Easter many of us get in trouble for having some kid overhear a conversation regarding the Easter Bunny’s apparent lack of existence, paint eggs instead of just eating them and suffer the indignity of an egg-hunt.

Still, it gives the kids some time off school and an excuse to be creative, one would suppose. Having said that, when you are lying on your back and stuffing your face with Cadbury’s finest on Easter Sunday while thinking of the starved man who suffered on the cross, just consider that a few lessons in irony might be in order!

By Cranky Craig Kinsella