Monday, March 05, 2007

Here Comes The Spring Bunny!

At one California elementary school, the Easter Bunny is out, while the Spring Bunny is in:
It's been nearly five years since Walnut Creek, Calif., renamed its Easter Bunny the "Spring Bunny," but the name change became news this week after a resident wrote a letter to the editor protesting it.

City spokesman Brad Rovanpera said he was surprised by the media buzz and TV news trucks outside City Hall Thursday, attracted by a change instituted in 2003 with no controversy. The city's Spring Bunny reigns over annual "Spring Egg Hunts" in two city parks.

"This will be the fifth year we are doing it that way," Rovanpera said. "This is the first complaint that I have ever heard. In fact, no one has ever complained to the city that we know of. This is from a letter to the editor."

The author of the letter, a former newspaper reporter named Michael Runzler, said banishing the word "Easter" from the bunny and the eggs strikes a nerve with many people. He is happy the story is getting attention, even if belatedly.

"First people can't wish 'Merry Christmas' at a store, and now they've taken Easter away from the Easter Bunny," Runzler said in an interview. "Everyone is welcome to celebrate what they want to celebrate, but if you're offended by an Easter Bunny or an Easter egg, then maybe you should not participate."

Rovanpera said the city renamed the bunny and the egg-hunt events after receiving a complaint from a Jewish resident in 2001 who said she was concerned that the city was sponsoring an event linked to religion.

The debate may echo the so-called "War on Christmas" battles in which a coalition of conservative talk radio hosts and religious groups have tried to prod companies to greet customers with "Merry Christmas" instead of the more generic "Happy Holidays."

Last year there were complaints reported in Minnesota when some malls renamed their bunnies and eggs to delete the term "Easter."

"It's really not a big deal," said Lawrence Cunningham, University of Notre Dame theology professor. "I don't see any intrinsic value to the rabbit to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

"The bunny is a fertility symbol with no religious connection to Easter," added Cunningham who was the Christianity editor for the HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion. "The egg, which was popularized in Greece, Russia and Eastern Europe in connection with Easter, does not have a religious connection to Easter. By taking away the term 'Easter,' these symbols to some extent return to their pre-Christian roots as symbols of spring fertility."
I wonder how long it'll be before we start hearing the MSM use the terms "holiday eggs" and "holiday baskets" when referring to the millions of search and find missions conducted by millions of kids in millions of backyards all over the country on Easter Morning?
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