Friday, April 11, 2014

You’ll be the grandest fella in the Easter parade

The Easter Bunny is a rubbish figurehead, not fit to polish Santa’s sleigh. For one thing, his (her?) image is vague. The Easter Bunny in my head is huge and terrifying, like Harvey, the invisible six-foot rabbit in the Jimmy Stewart film. But a highly scientific straw poll I conducted recently, revealed Bunnies resembling Hartley Hare from Pipkins, Bigwig from Watership Down, and the sexy Caramac bunny. Plus, his role is unclear. Some people (such as my children’s friends, thanks a bunch, guys), insist the rabbit brings their Easter eggs, whilst we’d been getting on fine without chocolate input from some damn cottontail. Santa and the tooth fairy take the credit for everything else, so I tried to resist. But last year the pressure got to me, so I put cutesy notes from the E.B. on the eggs. The children gamely humoured me, proving you can’t suddenly introduce a meddling bunny tradition without getting royally patronised by your kids.

Nothing about Easter is properly organised. The administrator is clearly one of those jaded types who does their online shop in work time. Take the timing of egg eating. Regardless of who brings them, it’s just chaos. Some wait till after Good Friday, others scoff the lot as soon as schools break up. Man of the House tries to insist on restraint till Easter Sunday, unless we spend four hours at a vigil mass. Others simply confiscate the eggs and put them on a high shelf for safe-eating, I mean safe-keeping.

Easter, in short, is no Christmas. Everyone knows what they’re meant to do at Christmas: make passive-aggressive remarks about their presents, and eat until they’re so log-jammed they’re pushing roast potatoes in with a plunger. Who knows what you’re meant to do at Easter? Sure, religious people have plenty to be getting on with – palms and stations of the cross – while Pagans have their tabloid-friendly fertility rites. But the rest of us have no fixed roles. All that’s on offer, really, is blowing egg out so you can decorate the shell (no-one has  ever done this successfully, I don’t believe you), and standing around aimlessly on low hills, watching small children sob because their badly-decorated eggs have only rolled a couple of feet. And that’s not even an annual thing; people only ever go to an egg-rolling event once.

In an attempt to scaffold some structure round this imprecise holiday, I’m introducing some Easter customs into my household. Telly – Easter Parade (like the Wizard of Oz, it stars Judy Garland). Game – egg jarping. This is conkers played with hard-boiled eggs, with nice clear rules, as determined by the World Egg Jarping Association (look it up, doubter). Eat – chocolate. C’mon, let’s not mess with success. Gifts – chocolate. This is where Easter has the potential to outclass Christmas, if it only had better PR. No need to stress about what gifts to buy, it’s choccie eggs all round. Just leave the bunny out of it.

Beth Miller. Published in Viva Lewes April 2014, and Illustration by Michael Munday.