Peter Cavanaugh

Celebrate Easter with this trip around the world complete with a Gene Autry story

Children collecting Easter eggs is a common scene; Peter Cavanaugh recounts other holiday events you might not be as familiar with.
Children collecting Easter eggs is a common scene; Peter Cavanaugh recounts other holiday events you might not be as familiar with. Sierra Star archive

Here comes Peter Cavanaugh

Hoppin’ down the bunny trail.

Hippity-hoppin’, Easter’s on its way!

It sure seems like Easter’s arriving as late as possible his year, but I just looked it up.

The earliest possible date for Easter is March 22. The last time this occurred was 1818 and it won’t happen again until 2285. Many of us won’t be around to see that. On the other rabbit’s foot, the latest possible date is April 25. That happened when I was one and a half years old in 1943. When I would be ninety-six and a half on April 25, 2038, Easter is scheduled again. I suspect that I, myself, am not.

As an Irish-Catholic altar boy (stop that snickering) back in the ’50s, Holy Week held special challenges, primarily a major test of faithful endurance. Certain liturgical services were often extended as long as a nail clipper haircut. It was in these moments that one should avoid fainting, especially when the first of us starts turning pale, weaving to and fro – then hitting the floor. The main thing was to immediately think about something as forbidden as possible to get your mind off being the next to keel over. What worked for me was – girls.

Although Easter is most commonly associated with Christianity in our culture and its perceived place as successor to a foundation in Judaism, all people in every land throughout time have greeted the arrival of spring with jubilance.

Even the name Easter comes from “Eostre,” the Anglo-Saxon goddess of sunrise and spring. It was from celebrations in her honor that we have inherited Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny. Festive fertility was in the air everywhere.

Spring is welcomed In Switzerland with Boogg as a snowman is stuffed with explosives and burned at a stake. Don’t get too close.

For hundreds of years in Zenica, Bosnians have hosted The Festival of Scrambled Eggs. All you can eat is free. Watch that cholesterol.

In Japan, cherry blossoms burst into bloom with Hanami, a long-standing tradition welcoming the end of winter and expressing deep appreciation for the temporal beauty of nature. A cherry makes me cheery.

Holi is an ancient Hindu festival in northern India. Everyone is covered in colored powder to properly observe the destruction of the demoness Holika through the help of Lord Vishnu. No Kool-Aid.

The Songkran Spring Festival in Thailand marks the beginning of the Buddhist New Year. It features one of the biggest water fights of the year with millions of Thais playfully drenching each other to wash away bad luck from the previous year. It’s a lovely thought and good, clean fun. Don’t forget behind the ears.

Floriade is Australia’s biggest celebration of spring. It doesn’t take place this year until Sept. 14 through Oct. 13 – when it’s spring down under. They have to wait. Or maybe they’re first.

Guess who wrote “Peter Cottontail?”

Gene Autry.

No. Not the mayor of Fresno.

That’s Alan.

Orvon Grover “Gene” Autry was a singing cowboy movie star who was also a big hit on radio and TV for more than three decades. In fact, Gene ended up owning a whole bunch of radio and television stations under the name “Golden West Broadcasting.” He became one of the richest men in the world. His horse was known as “Champion the Wonder Horse.”

Champion eventually suffered a better fate than did Roy Rogers’ famous horse Silver. When Silver headed for that big pasture in the sky, Roy had him stuffed and locked in a museum.

I’m not sure what happened to Roy’s wife, Dale Evans.

Hoppy Easter!