I have been thinking of taking up mutilating rabbits as a hobby (don't worry kiddies; I change my mind). It isn't that I have anything in particular against these floppy eared harbingers of the apocalypse, I'm just getting a little sick of the fact that the shops are full of Easter merchandise when its only half past February. Possibly doing horrible things to rabbits might alter this a little.
When it comes to obscene marketing orgies masquerading as religious events I must admit that my favourite is Valentines Day (or VD as I like to call it). I like VD because the principal article to purchase is flowers and the shops simply can't stuff their shelves full of flowers two months in advance otherwise they won't be any good on the day.
Like many religious holidays VD seems to take its inspiration from something rather hideous in history. According to tradition (or pseudo tradition or, more accurately, a pack of liars and fantasists) Valentine was a Roman soldier (and Christian) during the reign of the emperor Claudius II Gothicus. Roman soldiers enlisted for twenty years (pretty harsh at a time when the life expectancy wasn't much past forty) and were forbidden to marry while they served with the legions. Valentine (being a mutinous soul) married his sweetheart and was executed. Another version has Valentine as a Christian priest who aroused the ire of Claudius by performing marriage ceremonies for soldiers in defiance of the law. Since Claudius was only emperor for about sixteen months and spent most of the time chasing barbarians around the empire one can't help wondering where he found the time to bother with what a single priest was getting up to. In this version Valentine was slung in gaol and eventually executed. Before he was killed he is said to have performed a miracle by curing the daughter of his gaoler of her blindness. One can't help thinking a more pertinent miracle might have been to extend her blindness to her father. Still the Lord moves in mysterious ways.
Either of these stories would provide an appropriate back history for St Valentine unfortunately they are both total bollocks (and I may have made one of them up). As near as anyone can tell the title St Valentine actually refers to a few (possibly as many as three) early Christian martyrs who had (possibly) the name Valentine. This is pretty much all we know about any of them except that they died as martyrs for their Christian faith. Not too much should be read into that as all a Christian had to do to get martyred in those days was to say "I'm a Christian". Not even a Muslim with a death wish could find martyrdom so easily.
Anyway to get back to the theme of bunny evisceration with which I started this entry; it is high time we did something about the insidious extension of Easter throughout the year. If we're not careful we won't have time for Christmas. I do realise that attacking something as intrinsically cute and adorable (if you're not a farmer) as a bunny rabbit may seem like a cruel, pointless and largely ineffective way of protesting against Easter. To this I reply that a quick glance at human history will show that most of what we do is pointless and ineffective and a good deal of it is cruel. Don't shoot the messenger is all I'm saying. It's still better than my original idea which was to nail religious leaders to crosses until people got sick of it. I gave up on that because I was rather afraid that people wouldn't get sick of it.
Oh all right, I'm not going to mutilate rabbits either. I got some, brought them home and tried to psych myself up for a sort Hannibal Lecter stars in Watership Down scene but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I fed them lettuce instead. Rabbits being what they are my apartment is now wall to wall (and several layers deep) in bunnies. Walking from room to room is now rather like stepping on deep (and slightly damp) shag pile carpet. Besides even if I went ahead with my horrible scheme I bet it would take the shops less than a week to come out with chocolate tortured rabbits. And its still only February.