Reality television knows no boundaries. Hollywood producers have transformed exterminators, hillbilly hand-fishers, ice road truckers, hairdressers, consignment specialists, designers, housewives, and chefs into television sensations. And now we can add another unusual character to that list: the Easter Bunny! According to Producers' In-the-Know Magazine, the reality series, “Hoppin with Harvey” (the title an obvious homage to Harvey, the six foot, invisible rabbit in James Stewart's 1950s film of the same name), will debut in the spring of 2013. In a show promoted as a cross between Candid Camera and Ashton Kutcher's Punk'd, “Hoppin with Harvey” will follow the escapades of a costumed actor as the Easter Bunny makes impromptu visits to homes, workplaces, and schools of unsuspecting adults and children.
Exactly why does Harvey deserve a show of his own? Who is the Easter Bunny anyway, and what does this giant hare have to do with Easter?
The Easter Bunny is a descendant of the pagan goddess, Eastre, worshiped by Anglo-Saxons via the rabbit, the most fertile animal. Thus, the rabbit became associated with new life during the spring season. We have the Germans to thank for introducing America to the symbol of the Easter rabbit. German settlers in the Pennsylvania Dutch country passed the symbol through folklore; “Oschter Haws”, they claimed, would bring good children a nest of colored eggs. Early American children built their own nests of leaves and sticks in their gardens for the Easter Hare to fill. Through the ages, the Easter Hare emerged the Easter Bunny who brings baskets of eggs, chocolate, and jelly beans on Easter morning.
Do I believe a reality show following the adventures of the Easter Bunny will make good television? Absolutely not. Why? Because neither Producers' In-the-Know Magazine nor “Hoppin' with Harvey” exists. I made the whole thing up! April Fool!
Spring is the time for all things new, for little girls in pretty Easter dresses, little boys in navy blue suits and shiny shoes, Easter baskets filled with chocolate eggs in colorful foil, and all the laughter and smiles that go with it. I well remember going to church on Easter morning with my mother and my sister, my mind more focused on my chocolate, candy-eyed Easter bunny than on worship. My mother was dressed in a suit, little pill-box hat, and white gloves; my sister and I wore our spring toppers and Easter bonnets with purple ribbons adorned with chenille bumble-bees.
The truth is the Easter Bunny does not exist. There is no “Hoppin' with Harvey,” no Oschter Haws, no nests for pretty eggs. The reality of the Easter Bunny is revealed solely in the smiles of children in their Sunday best, hunting Easter eggs on green lawns, and in the memories of middle-aged ladies who wonder whatever happened to those chenille bumble-bees. Forgive me if I could not resist sprinkling a bit of April Fool fabrication into my Easter column. The good old days of toppers, Easter bonnets, and chocolate bunnies are long gone for me to be sure, but I still think of the holiday as a time to rejoice, be a kid again, and eat a chocolate egg or two (or three), and share in the newness of spring.
I hope I made you laugh, or at the very least, smile a little bit.
Happy Easter, everyone. Share the joy!