Bugsy of Nazareth by Margaret Downey

This is the story of a bunny born in the backyard of the Weisman home in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Weismans’ only child discovered the baby bunny on a star-filled night while the three Weismans’ were out for a walk.

Because Bugsy was such a cute little bunny, he was taken to a pet store in Nazareth, Michigan. The pet store displayed Bugsy in its storefront window. Little children came to worship the very sight of him. Bugsy found his first disciples (Markie, Lukey, and Johnny) at that pet store.

It was a miracle, but all the bunnies escaped from the pet store when an employee carelessly left the door to their cage unlatched. “Lettuce prey,” were the first words spoken by Bugsy when he and the others escaped.

After escaping from the pet store, Bugsy and his disciples went on a wild adventure. They taught children the joys of dancing the Bunny Hop, coloring eggs and hiding them, filling up baskets with candy, and wiggling their noses.

It was said that Bugsy once multiplied five chocolate bunnies and two marshmallow goodies to give away five-thousand treats. There was also a story about Bugsy magically turning chicken eggs into jelly beans.

Thus began the Hare-Christian religion.

Bugsy was caught in Mr. McKruger’s garden by the town butcher, Mr. Pilate. Bugsy was crucified on a barbecue spit during the Passover season. It was a sad end to an otherwise hippity-hoppity existence.

Bugsy died on Celery Hill. He died so that every year children could get baskets filled with candy. Children who worship Bugsy claim that they can eat all the candy they want with no fear of cavities. Some infidels do not believe that this rabbit, Bugsy of Nazareth, ever existed. They will just get cavities and their teeth will fall out.

Followers wear a rabbit’s foot around their neck with a nail in it to show their reverence to this brave rabbit. They drink carrot juice which symbolizes the blood of their hero. They eat parsley which symbolized the body of Bugsy. When it comes to taking an oath, true followers will insist on using the holy book, Watership Down, to lay their hand upon.

On the first Wednesday of Lent, believers must spread dirt from a rabbit warren on their forehead. The mark reminds people to prepare for springtime bunny births. When they see a bunny they make the sign of the bunny over their head (two fingers extended in the shape of bunny ears), push forward their upper front teeth, and wiggle their nose.

The story of Bugsy was told to every child, and every child told it to their child when they became parents. The Hare-Christian religion was spread through every generation and each generation would try to find some deep meaning in the story of Bugsy. Some people became so fanatic about the Bugsy story and it’s meaning to them, they started wars and killed everyone who would not believe in Bugsy, praise him, or worship his memory.

Soon the world was divided into different kinds of Bugsy believers and non-believers. It was a sad legacy for the bunny who just wanted to live and let live.

Note from the author: I like to tell the Bugsy story, then ask, “Which part of this story do you find unbelievable?”


Illustration by C. G. Carney

This information reposted from the notes section of Margaret Downey's facebook, where she is currently most active.