As usual, I'm going into silent retreat over Easter - not to meditate, but to escape the deluge of chocolate flotsam now overwhelming the supermarket shelves.

I'm particularly grumpy over hot-cross buns, sharing the late Spike Milligan's dislike of the product because they push the humble currant bun off the shelves for months on end.

Like Spike, I believe there is no better complement to morning tea than a freshly buttered, plain currant bun.

Adding cinnamon, chocolate and a cross is only an excuse to double the price and demolish the flavour of the original simpler fare.

I spotted my first hot-cross bun in January this year. In prehistoric days, when I was still a child, hot-cross buns only appeared a day or two before Easter and were traditionally only consumed on Good Friday, with the cross representing the obvious symbol of the crucifixion.

Historians will dispute this, suggesting that a similar spice bun was consumed in Pre-Christian Saxon England in honour of the goddess Eostre, and that the cross simply marked the four quarters of the moon. Known as the goddess of the dawn, or springtime, Eostre represented carnal pleasure leading to fecundity.

There is a certain irony in the fact that Christians - having taken over the original pagan feast and subtly changed the name to Easter - now face seeing their own edict eroded by yet another pagan god, Mammon.

As we no longer care about the four quarters of the moon, nor the significance of the crucifixion, perhaps it's time we showed our unswerving faith in consumerism by replacing the cross with the dollar symbol?

The other curiosity of Easter is the survival of the bunny through the centuries.

Now tinsel-wrapped and bearing the likeness of something out of a dopey Disney movie, these chocolate novelties are carrying on the tradition of pre-Christian Europe, when the hare - not the rabbit - was seen as the true sacred companion of the goddess Eostre and was also associated with Aphrodite and various satyrs and cupids.

The frenzied consumption of hare pie at these pagan festivals was apparently a prelude to frolicking with sacrificial maidens dressed in white, with a taste for re-enacting the role of the randy goddess.

Sounds more fun than biting the head off a gormless-looking chocolate bunny.