Monday, March 25

I have always found Easter the most surreal of jubilees

Today the girls celebrated Easter at school.  And how does a public grade-school in China, a school which exists as an arm of the staunchly anti-all-religions-but-the-religion-of-government government, observe this holiday, a holiday whose Chinese name, 复活, literally translates to “resurrection festival”? 

According to the Princess, the celebration started off, as all momentous occasions at school seem to, with “some seventh or eighth graders coming to say what we would have.” Per her, the big kids informed the smaller ones that “Easter is a holiday that includes eggs.  On Easter morning, all the kids wake up and eagerly go to see what they have in their Easter baskets, because they’re full of candy, and colored eggs, and toys.”

And then, the Princess told me, “they said ‘today we are going to have an Easter egg hunt,’ and they told the rules: ‘nobody can take more than two eggs. If you still want to find more eggs, find them for other people.’”

“Then,” the Princess reports, “We waited for five minutes and then we went down, and we saw eggs laid all over the grass, and we rushed for them, but I didn’t get any that were on the grass, I got some that were hidden by some trees.  And there were some people that got more than two,… and they gave theirs in to the teacher.”

The Princess got her brace and called it a day, but, naturally, there followed the post-hunt haggle. Apparently the eggs came in two sizes, a choice as mysterious to me as the choice to celebrate Easter in the first place.  The Princess’ original two were both of the bigger variety, but not for long, as someone—she swears, however improbably, that she can’t remember who—convinced her to trade her large egg for his small one.  “But then I switched back,” she reassured me. 

Why, pray tell, would you switch a big egg for a small egg in the first place? “Because that first time someone asked, I didn’t want to say no.  But then the next time people stopped me and asked me, I just said no.” 

And how about the hapless dupe whom she then induced to trade his big egg for her newly-gotten small one? “He was fine with it, he wasn’t happy or unhappy, he just gave it to me.”  Which may be true, as it seems that each egg, whether big or small, contained two pieces of candy. 

I saw none of the small eggs, but the bigger ones were metal enamel, decorated with Victorian-looking images of bunnies playing cellos, surrounded by fuzzy chicks and red-cheeked flute-tweedling cherubs. 

And the Rooster, did she do any wheeling and dealing with her eggs? “No, because I’m the kind of person that just doesn’t really like trading.” To which she added, immediately, “After I finish my homework, I’ll show you how to play Mad Eggs.”

The Princess looked up.  “Like Mad Birds?  How do you play?”

The Rooster, thus encouraged, set aside her homework right then and there and demonstrated her newly invented game by bashing the eggs together, fiddling bunny against fiddling bunny, repeatedly and resoundingly, while the Princess, quickly losing interest, moved on to a demonstration of how she’d had her knees in her jacket all day (to stay warm in the heatless confines of the classroom) and fell off her chair sideways.  This scene I present to you without commentary.