Pastel colored, cute, fuzzy, big, small, caramel, peanut butter and chocolate flavors will fill Easter baskets everywhere. Hats, gloves, shawls and shirley temple curls will be must have accessories. This Sunday pews everywhere will be filled with the best dressed bottoms they will be graced with all year long. Family members and friends will make cameo appearances bright and early Sunday morning as if they were in a music video giving Jesus a shout out. The occasion …Easter of course.
We love Easter because it is not only one of the most spiritual holidays, but a time for reflection and family to come together. It is the remembrance of Jesus’ rising from the dead, known as His Resurrection. If you are anything like me, having grown up in church, you knew early on the significance of the resurrection and why Jesus rose from the dead. I only knew that I was getting dressed up for Jesus and I would say a nice speech to let everyone know I knew what he had done for us all.
What I did not know however, was exactly where the bunnies and eggs came in. Why and how did the eggs become pastel colored and how did they relate to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed each and every Easter egg hunt and the Cadbury bunnies that I got to enjoy. My cousin even penned a song about the Easter bunny that over 20 years later, I can’t forget the lyrics to. Was the Easter bunny good to you? Was he good to your mama and your daddy too? Was he good to your sister and your brother too? Was the Easter bunny good to you? Catchy isn’t it?
A Little History Lesson
Easter is named after Eastre, a pagan Saxon goddess! Eastre (earlier, Eostre, derived from the Saxons’ Germanic heritage) was the Anglo-Saxon name of a Teutonic goddess of dawn, spring and fertility. Our word, “east” is related to this deity’s name. Her male consort was the Sun god, and the sun does rise, after all, at dawn and in the east. Rites of spring were celebrated in her honor at the vernal equinox (first day of spring). The first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox was also sacred to her, and this pagan holiday was given her name — Eastre. The full moon represented the “pregnant” phase of Eastre — she was passing into the fertile season and giving birth to the Sun’s offspring.
Eastre’s symbols were the hare and the egg. Both represented fertility and rebirth. Rabbits are more common in various parts of the world than hares so, over time the rabbit has been substituted — not without merit, since rabbits are notorious for their fertility. This is where the “Easter Rabbit” or “Easter Bunny” tradition comes from.
Dyed eggs were already being used as part of pagan rituals at the dawn of history in the Near Eastern civilizations. These were the first “Easter eggs.” As the traditions of the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs evolved, they were lumped together. As a result, in our modern Easter tradition, although the Easter Bunny is sometimes thought of as laying the Easter eggs so eagerly sought by children, the Easter Rabbit is usually regarded as male. Since rabbits don’t lay eggs there isn’t much point for us to debate over its gender.
When the emerging, Christian religion, with its emphasis on rebirth (through the Resurrection), found it expedient to continue celebrating Eastre’s holiday. The focus simply switched to Christ — and the spelling, eventually, to “Easter.”
It is now, in retrospect that I caution parents to not allow the commercialism of this most sacred of celebrations to overshadow the message that we need to convey to our children and to anyone that has not been introduced to the Messiah. Galatians 2:20 reads: “I am crucified with Christ. I no longer live but Christ lives in me, the life that I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” NKJV It was not the Easter Bunny that bore our sins and suffered the shame of the cross for us. This most selfless of acts deserves our undivided attention and it our responsibility to share with the world the truth about the greatest of love stories.
Let us not get so caught up in all of the images that we are literally being force fed. Chicks emerging from their shells and chocolate bunnies emerging from eggs are just a couple of the ways the world celebrates the birth of spring as opposed to the resurrection of the Son of the true and living God. Is it not God who creates all things and gives them life? Even if we wanted to just celebrate the season it would still point to Him because we are surrounded by His handiwork continually. He created it all! Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. Psalm 19:1-2 While you’re searching for eggs don’t forget to seek first the kingdom of God and all of its righteousness. Moreover, in all thy getting, get understanding.