Is the Easter Bunny Hurting Easter?
Lent is coming to an end and once again we are about to celebrate the most important day in our Christian heritage, Easter Sunday; the day Jesus rose from the dead. It is a joyous celebration in our faith!
I noticed as I was driving around this week that many churches have invitations on their signs to come and bring all the children to the Easter egg hunt on Saturday. Additionally, they have requests for everyone to attend services for Easter Sunday. Almost every sign indicated these invitations were coinciding with each other.
Easter is the one day besides Christmas that church parking lots are expected to be full. Seeing these
familiar signs made me question a few things surrounding Easter.
The first question that came to mind regards the Easter bunny with his baskets of eggs and candy. Are these traditions taking away from this crucial celebration in our Church and all Christian churches? Is it possible that this tradition might be a distraction from what is truly essential about this day?
The legend of the Easter Bunny (also called the Easter Hare and Spring Bunny) who brings baskets with colored eggs, candy and sometimes toys to the homes of children actually was brought to the United States by settlers from southwestern Germany. The German tradition “Oschter Haws” came to the United States in the 1800s with German immigrants, many of whom settled in Pennsylvania. It is now one of the most recognized commercial symbols of Easter.
There are 16 billion jelly beans made in the United States each year to help fill these Easter baskets. All the stores are filled with the essentials needed to fill the Easter baskets for the kids.
Another tradition happened around the same time. In New York City the Easter Parade also dates back to the 1800s, when the upper echelons of society would attend services at various Fifth Avenue churches, followed by a stroll in their new spring outfits and hats. In 1948 the popular film was released called “Easter Parade” starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, with music written by Irving Berlin. “In your Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it, you’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade!”
But what about Easter? The celebration of Christ’s resurrection? Is it lost in all of this commercialization and stories of Easter bunnies and parades?
Let’s get back to the true meaning of Easter – Jesus!
First and foremost, we see Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb whose blood was shed so we would have everlasting life. He is Jesus, God made flesh, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
He came from humble beginnings. He is called the Son of God, the Light of the World and is referred to as the Son of Man. His followers are born and then baptized and are called Christians. He turned water into wine at Cana. He was crucified and died on the cross for our sins. On the third day, he rose from the dead. He ascended bodily into heaven.
Does this Jesus who loved unconditionally seem like someone who would be offended about these other so-called traditions surrounding Easter? I wonder. I can’t help but think that Jesus would enjoy it. Jesus was always pictured enjoying the presence of children. I don’t think Easter baskets and brightly colored eggs would take away from that. He liked celebrations and participating in life. When I was growing up we use to think of our Easter baskets as rewards for giving up candy during Lent. We were always aware of the holiness of this day.
The focus of Easter is Jesus and His resurrection. Just as Santa Claus and the Easter bunny are symbols of giving, I know that Jesus was the ultimate symbol of giving. And I think He would be fine with all celebrations—even the bunnies.