I grew up in a household where holidays were highly commercialized. I’m sure this stemmed from my mother because my father was not that way.
Instead of celebrating Easter Christian style, we celebrated it pagan style. Did that make us sinners? So many questions and not enough answers. I could look these topics up in Google for plausible explanations, however, I would rather free-associate.
A few days before Easter, my mother would have the three of us color Easter eggs. This was not an exercise I was crazy about. My sister was the oldest, and coloring eggs with her was fun. Of course, I had to question every decision she made as to color and texture. Sherry was creative, and colored her eggs “outside of the box.”
The eggs were colored at the snack bar in our kitchen. I didn’t mind if I was sitting next to my sister. Sherry was patient and kind. If I had to sit next to my brother, fighting would ensue. If my mother had to intervene, punishment was not far behind.
One year while my mother was busy sewing at her sewing machine, I received the threat: “Wendy, if you want the Easter Bunny to come tomorrow, you better straighten up.” Based on my mother’s tone of voice, the Easter Bunny was a person of importance right up there with Santa Claus.
Where did the Easter Bunny come from? Where did Easter eggs come from? Why did we color them? What did any of this have to do with church?
We were given our Easter baskets first thing in the morning; and usually before church, on the off-chance we were attending.
Our baskets were filled with:
- Easter grass
- a hollow chocolate bunny
- jelly beans
- plastic eggs that opened (I detested those things); they were usually filled with pennies
- miniature chocolate eggs
- a gift
The magnitude of the Easter gift varied. One year, I got the Barbie Fashion Queen Doll. She was exotic looking and came with three wigs. That was a cool gift and I was surprised I got her. The doll had plastic molded hair so the wigs would fit. I could not cut the hair on the doll’s hair. Clearly my mother could hold a grudge; It had been at least five years since the Revlon Doll incident.
The pagan ritual comes from the ancient Germanic Druids and their fertility goddess, Eostre. She had a consort, Lepus, who was a large rabbit. She gave him the power to once a year “lay eggs.” That is where the association of the rabbit bringing eggs comes from.
How is it that Christians starting incorporating this style of celebration? During our religious stint, we were careful to make sure our daughter understood the history and meaning behind Easter. She too had an Easter basket, dyed eggs and participated in an Easter egg hunt.
As a society, why do we spend as much on Easter baskets as on Christmas gifts? Both are considered holy days yet the materialistic outweighs the spiritual.
Go to church on Easter morning and attendance is at an all time high. People are happy and jovial. One can expect to hear “Up From the Grave He Arose” and “Christ the Lord Has Risen Today.” The smell of the Easter Lily is subtle and sweet.
Somehow, this adventure ties into the advent of Spring and astrology. Let’s not forget Passover too.
Our individual style of celebration may differ but our expressions are similar. We are grateful for
- the end of winter
- the beginning of spring
- the anticipation of beautiful fragrant flowers filling the air
- the opportunity to carry a carefree heart
We are a part of something bigger – yet similar. Our spirit is lighter; our days are longer with sunlight. In its ultimate form, the universe reminds us we are alive.
In whatever style you chose to celebrate and honor this day, may you find hope and happiness in your little corner of the world. Happy Easter!