“Happy Easter, Groundhog!”

“Happy Easter, Groundhog!”

Feb 22, 2016

by Bill Probasco

SDB Church of Shiloh, NJ

The tall, graying rabbit rose from his chair. Was that the front gate, he wondered. What’s the time? Oh, dear! He’d been too deep in thought to watch the clock and now nearing his kitchen window he could see Groundhog coming up the walk. Rabbit met him at the back door.

“Hello, Hog, I wondered if you’d be free so early in the year!”

“Hello there, hello there” Hog said in his quaint, repetitive way. “I did get an early start this year!”

“Yes, but still, you are one who likes your sleep!” teased Rabbit. “Come in! I have tea waiting for us.”

Groundhog entered the cottage and found his way to the kitchen table, selecting the first chair, which was more of a short, wooden foot stool, and Rabbit hopped into his favorite seat across from his guest.

As Rabbit poured two cups of tea, Hog began: “So, my friend, what shall we talk about this year?” and proceeded to gnaw on a carrot as if he were eating a cob of corn.

Rabbit and Groundhog would get together every new year for tea, once Groundhog had emerged… for good…from his winter slumber, and before Easter Rabbit was due to make his rounds. But this year Hog could tell Rabbit had much on his mind.

Rabbit cradled his teacup in his hands as he stared out the kitchen window, gazing at the buds on the trees that swayed in the early spring breeze. The groundhog stopped his chewing, cleared his throat, and prompted his host again: “Rabbit…?”




Rabbit blinked, focused on his guest, and let out a deep sigh. “Sorry. It’s been a busy start to the year.”

“Well, you do have a big day coming. But it’s not your first Easter, now, is it?” chided Hog and pointed at his host with a half-eaten carrot.

“No, but I do hate it when I hear…” Rabbit’s voice trailed off.

“Hear what?”

“Well, when I hear those that question my purpose around Easter!”

‘Oh, this again…’ thought Groundhog. “Really, you are the Easter Rabbit, or Easter Bunny, or even Easter Hare. That’s who you are! Here we are, you and I, lucky to live here in Folkton. What’s not to like about folk like us? Not every tale gets so well treated!”



“But, really, don’t you ever wonder?” Rabbit looked up at nothing in particular. “I mean, you’ve got your day all to yourself. I’m left sharing a very important day…with the Almighty!”

“Now, just think about it” assured Groundhog as he stirred his second cup of tea with yet another carrot. “Think about all those kids you’ll visit this Easter. Don’t you think you make them happy?”

“Maybe…” said Rabbit, nervously pulling his ear. “But what about those I don’t make happy? Those that see me as competing with a grander event? Christ’s resurrection! That’s some stiff competition!!”

“Rabbit, you and I have lived here in Folkton for a long time. We both have long histories, much of which even we have forgotten. Why, if I recall, you arrived with the sir name of Osterhase.”

“You’ve got a long memory! That’s been a few centuries!” Rabbit said with a brief smile. It had been quite a while since he’d thought about his German relatives. And that was saying something. As a rabbit, he had plenty of relatives! Rabbit let go of his ear and looked earnestly at Hog. “But how does that lessen this competition?”

“Rabbit, when you first arrived here in Folkton, it was as that “Osterhase” or “Easter Hare.” There’s nothing to worry about. You’re not competing,” Hog assured him. But Rabbit still didn’t seem convinced.

“But that’s just a name. And some claim that very name ‘Easter’ comes from some pagan word. Again, putting me in competition with the Resurrection!” Groundhog could see that Rabbit was quite bothered.

“You know, Rabbit, I’ve also heard the name Easter might have German roots, just like you. That it’s some translation error for white week, since early Christians would wear white and get baptized around what is now called Easter week.” Groundhog paused to see if he was getting through to Rabbit. Just for good measure he poured himself some more tea. “There’s really no proof of either, you know.”

Rabbit stared at his guest. “How on earth do you know so much about the subject?”

Groundhog gave off another repetitive reply: “Ha-hee! Ha-hee! And you thought I slept all winter? I manage to do a fair amount of reading before I drift off for the season. And I always seem to be awakened by ole’ Kris Kringle in December. I have done my research on a fair amount of holidays, including my own! Not too many have heard of Candlemas — but that’s more my story, and we were talking about you and yours. Easter is Easter. That’s all there is. Some will question and some will not.”


Easter Egg


“Maybe…” Rabbit furrowed his eyes. “But still others bring up my eggs. I love bringing things to the children.” Rabbit sounded crest- fallen as he continued. “It’s more than just eggs. There’s chocolate, candy, jelly beans!”

“I’ve read some 16 billion jelly beans are bought each Easter.” Hog realized he’d interrupted Rabbit’s train of thought. “My apologies! Continue. Please!”

“Wherever do you find these facts!” exclaimed Rabbit. He shook his head, then proceeded. “There are those who talk about my eggs being a symbol of fertility, of some long-ago pagan tradition meant to lessen the significance of the Easter message…!” Rabbit pulled on both ears now. He was quite upset.

Groundhog set down his cup and brushed a carrot leaf or two off his vest. “Rabbit, think back. Think back to long ago, to when you started bringing your eggs at

Easter. Why did you first bring eggs on Easter morning?”

Rabbit looked at Groundhog, still tightly pulling his ears down around his head as if

he were trying to keep from floating off his chair. Slowly Rabbit began to recollect.

“The children would make nests for me…and I would put my eggs in

their nests.”

“But why eggs?” Hog quizzed his friend.

“Well, you weren’t allowed to eat eggs during the Lenten season.” As Rabbit grew deeper into his memories, he gradually began releasing his grip on his ears. “Christians were called to give up things as they remembered the sacrifice of Christ. One thing was to ‘fast’ or not to eat — at least certain foods. Eggs were one of the items you weren’t to eat, at least until Easter came.” Soon one ear popped out of his hands, then the other. Rabbit was feeling more like himself as he continued. “But you see, my friend…” Rabbit took a quick sip of tea, let off a relaxing sigh, and began to smile ever so slightly. “Chickens don’t observe Lent, so they would keep laying eggs. Sometimes a dozen at a time! These eggs were valuable to the farmers and their families. The only way to preserve so great a source of food was to hard boil the eggs. So I would go around on Easter morning and leave hard-boiled eggs for the children as a reminder that the time for fasting had passed and it was now time to

celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus!”

Groundhog smiled to himself. His friend was

finally starting to see his point. “So, what you’re saying is for years you’ve helped to bring joy to children on Easter Sunday. You’re actually helping to remind families from all over about the good news of Christ’s resurrection? That doesn’t sound like a competitor. That sounds more like a courier. I think you’re actually sharing the message by making sure more people remember the Easter season.”

“You think so? But what about those that don’t think the Easter Bunny should be a part of the holiday?”

“Well, that’s the joy of being from Folkton. To some, we really are only folklore. And those that prefer not to believe or talk about us don’t have to. But we are there to spread the good word to those that want to hear. Children, parents, grandparents… to some people that aren’t sure about the Easter story, you may be the best way to share that message. Your message. His message.

Think about that the next time you start to worry.”

Easter Rabbit looked at peace finally. “Hog,” Rabbit said. “I’m so glad we had this chat! Would you care for another carrot?”

“I don’t mind if I do.”

As Groundhog reached for the offered snack, he leaned in and looked Rabbit right in the eyes. “Happy Easter, Easter Bunny!”

Rabbit sat back and picked out his own carrot to munch. He looked approvingly at his friend and said, “Happy Easter, Groundhog!”

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