Sunday, April 4, 2010


Easter egg hunts are a part of my past. I eagerly participated when I was young, possibly even into my late teens. I distinctly remember the event becoming more physical between my brother and me, combining tackle football and wrestling with the keen-eyed observation required to find yellow-dyed eggs in the backyard lemon bush.

At that point it was more about the competition than the wide-eyed wonder of finding edible treasures behind every rock, plant, and spigot. We had grown up, and it was time to celebrate Easter in a different way. Like eating too much ham and deviled eggs. And let me tell you folks, turkey ain’t the only meat high in tryptophan.

Next on the memory hit parade was setting up Easter egg hunts for my own children. Sometimes we dyed eggs and sometimes we filled plastic eggs with small chocolates, jelly beans, or coins. Kate and Kelsey and Kyle searched in Palo Alto and Campbell and San Jose and once in South Lake Tahoe after a blizzard. That was the quickest hunt on record, what with none of the eggs having been left their natural white. There is nothing so obvious as a pink egg on a field of snow.

I ended my Easter egg hunt experiences with five years of teaching kindergarten. With copious contributions from generous parents, we scattered hundreds of eggs around the schoolyard before releasing several classrooms’ worth of five-year-olds. It was dangerous to stand in their way, lest you be trampled.

Now, with free time on my hands, and having finally learned the difference between “showers” and “rain” in the weather forecast, I embarked on solving another mystery. Because I am tired of being invited to Easter dinner and never knowing when to show up.

Most holidays have a fairly easy way to remember when they occur: a certain date! Halloween, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, and that most important of all, my birthday, all happen on the same day, year after year, without complication. (May 15 for those of you wondering; plenty of time to get a gift.) You can just take down your kitchen calendar every December and copy those special events to the new version, easy as pumpkin pie. For those of you who have more successfully made the transition to the new millennium than I, your so-called smart phone will take care of it for you.

Easter, though, is totally wacky. I never really cared when I was a kid, because as long as the solid milk chocolate bunny was sitting at my breakfast table, I didn’t care what the date was. I didn’t even care what month it was, which is important, because Easter is so totally wacky that it actually migrates between months.

The earliest it will arrive is March 22, but if that doesn’t work for you, no worries! It might just come along the next day, or the day after that, or by March 31. And if you’d like to put it off as long as possible, just stay alive until 2038 because that year Easter will finally land on April 25. The reason it fluctuates so much is because some geniuses gathered in what is now present-day Turkey (hmm . . . maybe they picked the Thanksgiving meal as well) in A.D. 325 to attain consensus on various items relating to Christendom. Settling the issue of the relationship of Jesus to God the Father, constructing the first part of the Nicene Creed (the profession of faith widely used in Christian liturgy), and promulgating early canon law. Makes my head spin just thinking about it.

Which is probably the same reason some doofus at the table wasn’t thinking straight when he blurted out, “What about Easter? We still haven’t picked a date yet!”

The bishop leading the proceedings might well have been trying to break for lunch, but our hapless hero—I’ll blame Secundus of Ptolemais until someone tells me otherwise, mostly because he has a funny name—brings everyone back from the buffet room with his simple question. And in their rush to fill their bellies, the assembled clerics put together a hasty mishmash of a plan involving the vernal equinox, the next full moon to follow, and the first Sunday after that.

Might as well just have picked a day and made it easy for the rest of us. For goodness sake, in 2018 Easter falls on April 1. Who are you gonna believe, your grandma or your teenager?

Grandma: “Happy Easter!”

Teenager: “April Fools!”

Good luck not opening a plastic egg that year and finding a rat turd in it.

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