But that said, I’d like to look at how, what we call the “secular” world, uses traditions to celebrate what we call, “Resurrection Sunday!”
The Easter Bunny has been around the Americas since the 1700’s when the German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania. While the exact origins of how this furry critter came to symbolize this religious holiday is somewhat unclear, it’s easy to see the parallel of procreativity. Face it; bunnies are prolific in this area. In ancient cultures rabbits represented fertility and new life. Once the German immigrants introduced the tradition of making nests for this little fuzzy creature that could lay colored eggs, the custom spread and included not only colored eggs, but candy and gifts, which children across the world enjoy even today. 1
The egg is another ancient symbol of new life. This is actually connected with pagan traditions and festivals from back as far as the 13th century, but has emerged to represent the rising of Christ back to life after His crucifixion and three days in the tomb. It is believed in some arenas that eggs were forbidden during Lent. So people decorated them to celebrate the end of the period of repentance. 2
Easter candy, along with the Easter egg, are also representative of new life. Chocolate eggs dating back to 19th century Europe, along with jelly-beans, introduced in the 1930’s, are Easter favorites. It’s interesting to note the jelly bean origin might actually be from something called a “Turkish Delight” which is supposedly from Biblical times! 3 Of course, there are many other popular candies available for Easter baskets and I am certain you probably have a favorite!
My favorite discovery about symbols for Easter, however, came from another perspective. These other traditions, however secular, could be viewed as representing the Christ. Consider Mark Hart’s perspective in his article “Finding Christ In A Secular Easter.” He talks about how our youth are like rabbits, procreating in relationship after broken relationship rather than remembering that our bodies are a gift from God and chastity is the best option.
Hart compares people’s hardened hearts to the boiled eggs while people try to paint themselves different than who they really are, rather than being thankful for the unique person God created. They not only paint themselves different, they try to hide their unique qualities they dislike. Or they hide those secret areas of their lives they are certain others may not approve.
After all the hiding, they place their “eggs” in the best basket they can find in hopes of fame or fortune, using fake grass to hide any mistakes, all the while trying to be sugary sweet like the chocolate eggs (or bunnies) to those who can best help them reach their goals, but not realizing they are being hollow rather than standing solid on what is right. 3
The very idea that secularism has replaced the religious part of Easter may not necessarily be accurate. These “traditions” instead, might be demonstrations of behavior that solidify the real need for the Jesus, the Christ, our Risen Savior, we are celebrating this Resurrection Sunday!
So I challenge you this week, as we continue to celebrate this Holy holiday, you consider what Easter really means to you. How are you celebrating?
Happy Easter, everyone!