You’ve seen them. The ubiquitous bunnies and Easter baskets that are synonymous to the celebration of Easter Sunday. Actually, I’ve been seeing them even before Valentine’s Day was over. Just go to your local Walgreens and you’ll see their faithful associates rearranging shelves for a barrage of items and confections that have very little to do with the real meaning of Easter.
To be honest, Easter did start as a pagan holiday, a rite of spring. In distant history, people were glad when spring came. They can go outdoors, things start growing again, it’s just a joyous time. With the coming of Christianity, early leaders wanted to move people away from heathen beliefs and practices so Easter was superimposed on the previous celebration by associating it with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Of course, the timing couldn’t be any better since the season of Lent, which ended with Easter Sunday does happen in the spring.
I’m not putting down people who buy stuffed bunnies and Cadbury Crème eggs. I love them just as much as anybody. But ever wonder why the bunnies and eggs? Because they are signs of spring and were symbols of fertility! Rabbits cavort as soon as the weather gets warm. Before somebody built a humongous house near the creek in our neighborhood, it wasn’t unusual to see bunnies hopping on our street after dark. Bunnies and eggs are signs of new life and that is what the Resurrection means to Christians – being born to a new life. Because Christ died for our sins, we can look forward to a new life in heaven.
The Church explains the practice of wearing new clothes for Easter in the same light. We dress our new selves. Although I’m suspicious that this may have been propagated by Woolworths or Macy’s at some point!
The Easter Bunny is a character of Germanic origin, just like Santa Claus. Eggs used be colored red to represent the blood of Christ, or green to represent new life. Because Catholics fast and abstain from meat and poultry during Lent, eggs were naturally included in the Easter feast. German Protestants did not want to their children to follow Catholic traditions but they still loved their eggs so the Easter Bunny was concocted, giving eggs, candy, even toys to good kids who made colorful nests in their caps or bonnets. Mom’s eggs weren’t as exciting.
In this day and age, very few people color eggs anymore or volunteer to dress up as a bunny and stores have seen the commercial value of stocking goods for Easter. Personally, I never did see the relationship of Easter baskets with the true meaning of Easter. Maybe because I’ve been raised in a different culture. Why should kids get gifts for Easter – isn’t eternal life enough? And have you seen the things inside these baskets lately? Mostly junk. So if you’re set on giving Easter baskets, put them together yourself. Lots of great craft ideas on the internet. Do enjoy the holiday but please remember that it is the most holy of Christian days, the very core of our faith. God bless!