Sweetest folks came by while I was out shoveling a load of shit the other day–holy seventh-and/or latter-day witness rollers or something. Whoever they are, they always come in sets of two, and half of them does all the talking and the other half nods. This set was inviting me to a big celebration of Jesus’s murder on Monday, or it might have been Tuesday. I’m not sure which, because it didn’t make it on to my calendar, but whichever it was, it was a big deal to my visitors. If you’re going to celebrate an execution, you don’t want to get the day wrong, lest you seem forgetful, or overeager.
As the talking half explained it, it was essential to commemorate the occasion at the proper time, and that time had something to do with the Passover seder. And that is supposed to happen on the fifteenth day of some month that most people don’t even use anymore. She was awfully dismissive of the notion of Easter always falling on a Sunday, although that must happen some of the time, I suppose. I get being a stickler. I’m old enough to remember when our holidays didn’t always fall on a Monday, and it seems to me something important got lost, there. But I would struggle in a religion that required such precision from me. Most of the time, since I retired, I’m not even sure what day it is.
My new friends believed in this date business very strongly, and that’s all right with me. I think people should believe anything they want to believe. That’s because I don’t believe in anything very strongly. It’s the people who do believe in things strongly who believe I should believe what they believe.
Here at our house, Easter is celebrated with a veritable shitload of chocolate, plus dinner. Traditionally, it’s a lamb dinner, but not this year. The Lamb of God may be alive and well–I’m not the one to ask–but the Lamb of Fred Meyer One-Stop Shopping was sold out. So, pork it is. Also, Sunday it is. We’re not particular.
At any rate, my visitors got me thinking about how much else we’re getting wrong. When the Easter Bunny shows up on a Sunday at our house, is he endangering our souls? Should we even believe in him? I never actually see the Easter Bunny, but believing in things you can’t see has a pretty stout religious precedent.
Well. The Easter Bunny himself turns out not to be biblical after all. In fact, he first turned up in the 1600s in Germany. Newly minted Lutherans had just cast off a bunch of Catholic pomp and circumstance and they needed new pomp to replace it with, and that’s where we’ve gotten many of our finer traditions–your Christmas tree, some of your better carols, and the Easter Bunny, who was really a hare, if you want to be orthodox about it. He was a bit of a judgmental dude to start with, stern of countenance, and was said to be able to tell if any given little boy or girl deserved to be given eggs. As the years went by the Bunny softened up and flang out eggs to just anyone.
How did the Germans come up with an Easter Hare bearing eggs? Rabbits don’t lay eggs. Rabbits don’t even lay each other, or so it was widely believed in the 17th century. Every spring there were billions of new baby bunnies that seemed to come out of nowhere; no one ever observed rabbit sex. That’s because people are easily distracted and rabbits are quick about it. So people concluded that the billions of little bunnies were conceived immaculately, which they approved of. Christians in general have always been a little sensitive about things getting nailed.
There were problems involved with the cultural export of the Bunny. The Swedes had trouble understanding the German word for Easter Hare and thought they’d said Easter Wizard, so that’s who’s in charge of their holiday.
Similarly, in parts of Africa, because of confusion over the umlaut, it is the Easter Rhino that thunders into town bearing something like eggs for all good children. They look a little like human testicles. Or so I would like to believe.
Easter rhino, eh? You'd need one heck of an eggcup for rhino eggs.
As for those visitors who always come in pairs and want you to believe things, they're all basically these guys.
Well done! Could've been shorter, but they're on it.
can I be your neighbor? at last, someone I could talk too that would understand what I say and how I feel.
keep posting please. you bring joy to my day.
Well that's nice. I seem to be able to do this twice a week, but two joyful days are better than no joyful days, right?
I'm forever grateful we moved to a dead-end street of only three houses with an inconvenient hill to troop up and down – it really eliminate most proselytizing visitors. And I think you have Easter exactly right, a good dinner and chocolate.
I actually like these people. Especially the Witnesses. I'm always amazed when people go to all the trouble of rounding up the herd. I mean, we should all do that about climate change, but mostly we don't.
I think you gave a bunch of people a good laugh here and a bunch of people a heart attack. I am so with you on letting each person alone to find their own way through this crazy and wonderful life.
I never seem to get any hate mail, but I suspect a number of people are praying for me. Which means I don't have to.
I love your pictures almost as much as your prose, Murr. Pootie's got a new friend. What would THEY lay? 🙂
Pootie and the Easter Bunny go waaaay back. EB is probably the Pootster's favorite religious figure.
I have a Christmas Eve grandson. My daughter said if he complained about the juxtaposition with Christmas he could wind up a Seventh Dayer, with no birthdays or holidays.
Never underestimate the power of a good threat when dealing with children!
Flang? I love learning new words!
Love the post. I asked my daughter if the secular Easter bunny was coming to her house. Husband observed that "secular" is the only Easter bunny there is!
I'm thinking "flang" goes at least as far back as Pogo.
I flang stuff all the time. Wasn't even a cause for pause me being from the deep south and all.
'Flang' was a treat to read. So was,"Christians in general have always been a little sensitive about things getting nailed." Thank you, always, Murr.
You got a knock on the door, huh? We got pamphlets, left quickly between dropping off the groceries and running to get the car washed — perhaps done by door-knocking rabbits. At any rate, they didn't leave any chocolate, so I threw the pamphlets in the recycling, where they will rise, three days from now, to be taken away and reborn as milk cartons.
You know what someone JUST pointed out to me that I'd never thought of? Sunday is only two days away from Friday. Obviously we've gotten the days wrong all this time.
I hide and refuse to answer the door when the walking evangelists come by. My grandfather used to invite them in his house and debate for hours with them. I think the end result, in terms of changing their minds (or ours), is exactly the same.
I kind of like them. Most of the Witnesses I've talked to seem to be quite bright, which makes their position that much more interesting. Maybe it's the novelist in me, but I'm fascinated by what people profess.
The Easter bunny is a bit of a shape-shifter here too. In some houses he is a bunny, and others with a more patriotic approach welcome the Easter Bilbie – and then eat it, which sort of negates their patriotism.
The Easter Bilby! Marvelous. I'm assuming she does not bring a basket because she already has a pouch.
The Cooker was showing me her new bra the last time the witlesses stopped by. They looked in the window as she pulled up her sweater. I saw them quickly turn and leave and that was the last time I saw them. I made a joyful noise!
I'll bet you were already making it.
I wrote about this before, but sometimes things just work out. Like the time I was being pressured by the Avon Lady and my lizard jumped on her lap.
I think we would all agree that it's better that the Easter Bunny brings us chicken embryos, than that the Easter Chicken bring us rabbit embryos :-). Or so it seems to me.
Eww. A chicken in a natty vest leaving baskets of pink bald wormy things. Bleah.
I always get Jehovah Witnesses trying to save me. I thank them for their literature and tell them where my church is in case they would like to visit one Sunday!
I think you are teasing us about Easter Rhino's,…right?!?!? That could be scary!
No, Rose. You mean you don't believe in the Easter Rhino? I might have to get a friend and come knock on your door to explain it to you.
OMG, why are the tags "Lutherans" and "testicles" the part that cracks me up the most?
Because there's a complete disconnect, there.
They came at breakfast one time so we fed them. Told them we would be happy to chat but that they couldn't use the Bible as proof as we didn't believe it. We had fun.
It IS fun. What did I hear about the Bible one time? That it represented the best cosmological guesses of the wandering goatherd population 3000 years ago?
Ēostre was the goddess of the mostly Anglo-Saxon/pagan Spring festivals, ergo the word Easter and another one of those events that got co-opted because people liked feasting and frolicking, and didn't want to give that up. I figure if you have a fertility goddess being celebrated at the same time that hares are running about like loons in March and early April ("mad as a March hare"), doing their nutty rituals where the males leap into the air and smack each other with their paws, it just had to morph into the Easter bunny. Fertility, feasts, Ēostre, estrogen, eggs: Eureka!
p.s. love the pic of Pootie and his rabbity friend.
I should probably Google a video of your smacky rabbits, because I totally believe you, but for the moment I'm going to enjoy visualizing them doing the Time Warp from Rocky Horror.
Here's "mad as a March hare":
whack whack whackety whackety whackety whackety WHOOPS whackety whackety whack whack
I actually sit around and wish the Jehovahs would come back. Because the last time they came I spake down upon them from our 42' tall birding tower, refusing to open mine door unto them. It was mighty satisfying. Favorite line: "As the years went by the Bunny softened up and flang out eggs to just anyone."
They came ALL THE WAY down your DRIVEWAY? Hey, I plan to do that soon. Verily.
Let me know when that happens, as I would drive down fron Detroit to meet two of my favorite writers EVER.
Aww! Wait. You mean Vladimir Nabokov and Mark Twain?
Yup, the Easter Bunny has nothing to do with Jesus. But hey, when you've got a chance to market something, anything, don't let facts get in your way.
BTW, a Bear dressed as a letter carrier just happened into my life, and now I'm writing a story (maybe even book) about him. He's on my latest blog post. Name is Ballentyne, though I could have, perhaps, found a derivative of Murr. Though that might only be on Wall Street (the derivative, I mean).
Blessings and Bear hugs!
Bear hug gratefully received! Ballentyne looks like a definite Friend of Pootie.
Somebody's calendar is out of whack. I did hear that both the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Easters were celebrated on the same day this year.
However, Passover came first although it was later than usual. (It's a leap year on the Hebrew calendar.) I thought everyone agreed that Good Friday occurred on the first evening of Passover, which was on April 14. So whenever the occasion of Jesus' murder was celebrated, it's over for this year. Just sayin'.
Then there's that whole controversy about Jesus jumping the gun on the Last Supper because he had a premonition. So maybe it would be solid tradition to get it all wrong.
In my home Easter is celebrated on whichever day the kids turn up with chocolate for me. This year that was Good Friday, which made it extra good.
I get annoyed with those zealots who insist I should believe what they believe, but I don't say so, I just nod and smile, play dumb until they go away, usually pretty quickly once i get the staring eyes and grinning going on.
I think it would annoy me more if it was a friend of mine, but I like them plucky little door-knockers.
The zealots around here try to resort to fear tactics. "Are you scared where you'll end up?" "Are you concerned you'll end up in hell?" "Do you fear God's judgement?"
If you stare then in the eye, smile, and say "I'm really not one bit scared of any of that" they get very uncomfortable. You'd think they'd have a back up tactic, but they don't seem to every think of having one prepared. You'd think their technique would evolve…
That reminds me of the Scientology dude downtown who wanted me to take a Personality Quiz. I didn't want to. He said, "don't you ever wonder what the meaning of your life is?" I said no. Because I never wonder that.
When is Easter? Did I miss it. I love eggs.
No eggs for you till next year.