My oh my! What a lot of fuss about nothing. The Church of England is up in arms because the National Trust’s annual Easter egg hunt has been renamed the ‘Cadbury’s Egg Hunt.’ Since Cadbury’s stump up 350,000 eggs a year, I can sort of see their point. It’s a commercial imperative. Mind you, go to their website, and the word Easter appears on the very first page about the event, so it’s not as if they’ve ditched the concept completely.
The ever-reliable self-publicist John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, waded into the fray, spluttering with indignation. The renaming is ‘tantamount to spitting on the grave of Cadbury.’ Now as it happens, John Cadbury was a member of the Religious Society of Friends, and as I understand it Quakers don’t celebrate Easter at all, nor any of the other big hugfests. They believe every day is a new opportunity to celebrate God. That seems a viewpoint worth taking if you’re into that sort of thing.
Meanwhile Goodie Two Shoes got in on the act. She tried to pull rank because she’s a vicar’s daughter, and also a member of the National Trust. ‘It’s a very important festival for the Christian faith… I think what the National Trust is doing is frankly ridiculous.’
She made those comments while en route to Saudi Arabia. Given the Saudis’ robust approach to dealing with dissent, you might think she’d have a few more important things on her mind, such as how to stop the beheadings. If I were her, I might also want to say a word or two about the flogging of women who have been raped. That might be a better way to endorse Christian values.
Even Jezzer Corbyn stuck his oar in. Branding it ‘commercialisation gone a bit to far,’ he added, ‘It upsets me because I don’t think Cadbury’s should take over the name of Easter.’ I could make a case that the whole concept of choccy eggs is commercialisation gone too far, but hey ho.
The thing is that this faux outrage is a bit pointless, because the origin of the business of the eggs goes back to pagan times. As with so many religious celebrations, Easter was timed to coincide with Oestra, a pagan kneesup. The idea was to get the ungodly onboard with Christianity. Change your god and you can still get pissed.
Some academics even think the name itself is derived from Oestra, an idea that goes back to the 700s. There’s some dispute about that, as there always is when pointyheads argue about the number of angels on the head of a pin, but the eggs and the rabbits certainly predate Christianity.
Storm in an eggcup, you could say.