The bunny or the egg? A (sort of) history of Easter

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I still remember the first time I saw the Easter Bunny. Not that there was ever a second time and to be honest, it wasn’t really the Easter Bunny. It was rather a 6’2” Scotsman with a really big rabbit suit. The accent gave him away. I knew Santa Claus had a Scottish accent, but the Easter Bunny? 

No, even at five – I knew better.

Our next-door neighbour Philip, was a man of many talents. The most useful was his ability to transform himself into Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and something that resembled a hedgehog in a two-piece bathing suit. 

I still don't understood that holiday.

Philip had a deal with the parents on our block. They would leave the doors open on the eve of every major holiday, so he could wander through the houses, nibble on cookies, drink some spiked milk and deposit an egg or two for the children.

It was the 1970s.

Easter is an occasion of springtime festivals involving yellow marshmallow chicks and pink plastic grass. In Christian circles, Easter is - of course - the religious holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Then, there is the Jewish festival of Passover, an important feast - linked to Easter by its position in the calendar - celebrated for seven (or eight) days. And, there are many Easter customs and legends that have little to do with Christianity or Judaism.

It is believed (by people who think about these things), that Easter originated with Ostra – the Scandinavian goddess of fertility. Ostra was such a cool mythological figure that she had her very own festival and traditions associated with this hip event – like the fertile bunny – still survive today. 

The modern Easter Bunny was first mentioned in writings in Western Europe in the 1500s. Later, in the early 1800s, the first candy bunnies – made of pastry and sugar – were baked in Germany. German settlers then introduced the special rabbit to North Americans and his arrival was considered a really huge deal for kids who believed that if they were good, the floppy-eared creature would lay a nest of multicolored eggs.

What farms did these children live on.

Of all the symbols associated with Easter, the egg is the most identifiable and the easiest to digest - with a little salt, and a dash of pepper. Originally, eggs were painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring and they were exchanged by romantic admirers - much the same as Valentines.

Different cultures have their own ways of prettying up eggs. In Greece, eggs are painted crimson to represent the blood of Christ. In parts of Austria, eggs are pierced at the ends and the innards are blown into a bowl. The hollow shells are dyed and hung from shrubs, trees and the tallest girls at the high school dance. Slavic folks decorate their eggs with gold and silver designs and Ukrainians create beautiful works of art using a technique called Pysanski.

Eggs play an important role in Easter sports too. For example, those wacky Romans celebrated the Easter season by running races on an oval track and giving each other eggs as prizes. And we all know about that other traditional Easter game – the egg hunt. That’s when your offbeat uncle runs down the street wearing nothing but rabbit ears and a smile while shouting, “Here comes Peter F*#&ing Cottontail!”

Then again, maybe that’s just my family.

No, really.

The Social Net Worth

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I recently read somewhere that 1 in 11 people worldwide are active on Facebook and of these people, more than 50% log on everyday. Evidently, this translates into more than 700 billion minutes (per month) that human beings are spending on the social network.

I am one of the 600 or so million users. This, quite frankly, scares me.

I’ve always been somewhat of a non-conformist. As a high school kid, I styled my hair spiky, adorned myself with my father’s old suit vests and wore my jeans frayed at the bottom, so they fell just slightly above my ankles. I prided myself in looking unusual and acting dissimilar to the other kids in the playground. As a college-aged kid, I went to art school. As an adult, I am considering home schooling my daughter. Yet, here I am, swimming amongst the Hoi polloi.

What happened?

Truth is, I can’t remember the exact moment I joined the masses. So it is with addictions I guess. But I do know this… like a dutiful addict, I recruited more junkies. Geoff joined at the same time as me. Mom was a member soon thereafter. Within a year, I had convinced my dad to sign up. More friends and family members followed.

At first, it was divine. I delighted in the ability to carefully select and upload flattering Profile Pictures of myself. That worked brilliantly… until the Tagging began. Still, I reconnected with long-distance family members whom I had not spoken with for years. Old schoolmates found me. An ex-boyfriend messaged me to apologize for the distasteful way he had dumped me 20 years ago. It wasn’t long before I began sharing the minutiae of my daily existence.

I didn’t want to. But I did it anyway.

Looking back, the posts on my Wall read more like cries for help… Want coffee. In desperate need of sunshine. Craving a cheese croissant. In next to no time, I began using meaningful quotes from other people as my Status Updates. I moved to Farmville. I didn’t realize how sick I was. I was in too deep.

Facebook is a problem for many reasons. Not the least of which is the fact that it’s hard to keep track of who your friends are. This became apparent at a recent event at which Geoff commented, “I think that lady sitting there with the purple purse and floral skirt is on my friend’s list.” Her name? Neither of us had any idea. And removing such virtual strangers from your account is no easy feat. I’ve tried to unfriend casual acquaintances, only to have these same people request me as a friend the very next day – forcing me to make up lies to explain my buddy purges.

Let me be candid here. Facebook is wearing me out. It’s just too much work stalking creeping trying to keep up with what all and sundry are doing. I have witnessed relationships blossom. I have seen relationships become “complicated”. I have read about puking children, learned of newly unemployed associates and witnessed drooling drunks. Then there are the success stories. How can I possibly compete with early potty trainers, fancy dinner makers and wonder women who have it all? Comparing my social net worth with others is exhausting.

This crap is permeating my dreams.

So, I’ve taken the first step. I refused to see The Social Network. I deleted every posting on my Wall – right back to day one. I only checked Facebook five times while writing these words. Okay, 10 times. I’m not sure what to do next, but admitting I have a problem must surely be the first step to becoming free.

Okay, now to go post this link on my Wall...
No, really.