Gary Brown: An Easter 'unlike any other'
A theological question that has followed me through seven decades of celebrating Easter is how the heck a bunny with a basket ever got associated with a religious holiday.
I've fact-checked this. None of the books in the Bible mentioned anything about distributing cream-filled chocolate eggs and jelly beans – like manna from heaven – to the masses.
I admit that the religious and the secular lived together on Easter in our house when I was growing up.
We all got dressed up in our holiday finery before heading off to church for the Easter service each year. But, before we did, we hunted for the hard-boiled eggs we had colored the day before by dipping them into water laced with food coloring. I'm not sure what that had to do with the biblical Easter story, but we arose early to do look for them.
And, also spotting the Easter baskets that the holiday rodent-like mammal had left us, the youngest among us bit off the ears of solid chocolate bunnies, tore apart marshmallow "Peeps" with our baby teeth, licked the goo off our fingers from breaking onto cream-filled eggs, and scarfed down enough jelly beans to raise the sugar level in our blood so much that we sang loudly – almost sacrilegiously – later at church.
Other incongruent traditions
The Easter Bunny and the candy are not the only holiday traditions that don't seem to mesh with religious doctrine. It turns out that many of those have explanations.
Take the Easter parade in New York.
"The Easter Parade tradition dates back to the mid-1800s," said the lengthy-sounding website easteregghuntsandeasterevents.org, "when the upper crust of society would attend Easter services at various Fifth Avenue churches then stroll outside afterward, showing off their new spring outfits and hats."
Dressing up on Easter supposedly has its own origin. Another online history attributes "the origin of elaborate Easter ceremonies, including gaudy dress and display of personal finery, to the Roman Emperor Constantine I in the early part of the 4th century, when he 'ordered his subjects to dress in their finest' on the holiday."
And, eating a family dinner on Easter similarly goes way back in history.
"It's a tradition that's about 3,000 years old and stems from the Jewish holiday Passover, which celebrates Israelites being liberated and their exodus from Egypt," explains thedailymeal.com.
That doesn't offer a reason, however, why it's a tradition at each Easter dinner for the nosiest of our aunts to ask the oldest of the cousins why they aren't married yet and have children.
Making sport of it
What I also didn't find were explanations for the origins of such Easter traditions as the egg-related games.
Maybe it simply was the need to have some kind – any kind – of a sport for Easter.
Professional football games traditionally are held on Thanksgiving. Pro basketball has taken over Christmas. College football bowl games are both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. And watching baseball is a tradition for Labor Day and the Fourth of July.
Easter gets the egg stuff. As an adult who likes to sit in front of the TV and eat snacks while I watch others get real exercise, I feel slighted.
A lot of guys go out on Easter and play golf if the weather warms. Coincidentally, this year, The Masters golf tournament winds up on Easter. So, at least today, the holiday has its own sport.
TV broadcasters call it "a tradition unlike any other." Certainly it's more interesting than televising an Easter Egg Roll.
Reach Gary at email@example.com . On Twitter: @gbrownREP