On the heels of complaints about a left-wing "war on Christmas," now there's fuming from the right about a supposed "war on Easter."
Bill O'Reilly of "The O'Reilly Factor" fame recently identified several "anti-Easter municipalities" in various states. The evidence: A few communities say they are holding "spring" egg hunts instead of "Easter" egg hunts. "Secular progressives are running wild with President Obama in the White House," the Fox News host declared. "They feel unchained … and they are trying to diminish any form of religion."
This argument is, well, exaggerated. First, Easter bunnies and Easter eggs aren't Christian inventions. Even the word "Easter" is, at its root, not Christian; it's derived from the name of an ancient Germanic goddess of fertility and sunrise.
As they did for other observances, early Christians co-opted pagan festivals for their own purposes. (The egg was a pagan symbol of new life, the rabbit of fertility.) Thus the secular tradition of welcoming spring and the religious tradition of the resurrection merged, much as the celebrations of the winter solstice and Christmas did.
It's absurd to suggest that President Obama could have anything to do with some town's decision to rename an Easter event. Monday, he and the first lady will host the White House's annual Easter egg roll — and that's its official name.
Why some areas decided to hold "spring" egg hunts this year is anyone's guess. Perhaps with so many people ready to sue municipalities at the drop of an Easter bonnet, officials decided to err on the side of caution by renaming anything that sounded religious.
Both sides need to observe some common sense. Towns that move toward "spring" egg hunts out of respect for non-Christians deserve credit for sensitivity. Conservative commentators are fulminating against a "war" that does not exist.
Whether you celebrate Easter to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ or use the day to welcome the first buds and fresh shoots of spring (or both), may Sunday be a happy one for you. It's a time for celebration, not sniping.