I’ve been thinking about this post all week as we prepare for Easter weekend and it prompted me to do some research. I always find it interesting that it feels like the entire world celebrates Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. I grew up in a Christian household, so naturally we would celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas and His resurrection at Easter, but why are the stores filled with Santa, eggs and bunnies? Well, after celebrating Easter and dying eggs my entire life I decided to do a little research.
According to a Pew Research Study from 2012 73% of Americans consider themselves Christians. Wow. Does that sound high to anyone other than me? I would’ve guessed that the number would be somewhere below 50%, but in any case it’s interesting. So, if 73% of Americans consider themselves to be Christians it would totally explain why the stores commercialize Christian holidays – assuming that 73% of their customers would want to celebrate. So I dug a little deeper – What’s with the bunnies and eggs?
According to Wikipedia, “In Christianity, for the celebration of Eastertide, Easter eggs symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus: though an egg appears to be like the stone of a tomb, a bird hatches from it with life; similarly, the Easter egg, for Christians, is a reminder that Jesus rose from the grave, and that those who believe will also experience eternal life.” To be 100% honest with you – I’ve been dying, hiding and eating Easter eggs my entire life and I never made that connection. But I totally love it. For some reason the Easter egg feels a little less commercial to me now – thinking about the plastic versions with goodies inside and how that relates to goodness coming from an empty tomb just makes me grin from ear to ear.
But taking it a little further – why do we dye the eggs? Well, according to that same Wikipedia article, “The custom of the Easter egg, however, originated in the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion. The Christian Church officially adopted the custom, regarding the eggs as a symbol of the resurrection; in A.D. 1610, Pope Paul V proclaimed the following prayer: Bless, O Lord! We beseech thee, this thy creature of eggs, that it may become a wholesome sustenance to thy faithful servants, eating it in thankfulness to thee on account of the resurrection of the Lord.” How awesome is that? So not only do the eggs symbolize goodness coming from the empty tomb, but dying them red reminds us of the blood shed at the crucifixion. And thanks to Pope Paul V, we should also enjoy eating the eggs with our lunch!
Easter circa 1981I really hated “itchy” dresses but doesn’t my brother look sharp in his plaid pants and green Master’s jacket!
Okay, so now we’ve covered the eggs and commercialism in general, but what’s with the bunnies? I came across this article on Christianpost.com which references an article on snopes.com where the author says that, “The Easter Bunny is German origin. He shows up in 16th century literature as a deliverer of eggs, in his own way a springtime St. Nicholas bent on rewarding the good. Colored eggs were left only for well-behaved good children.” So the bunny is basically a fairy tale created to justify the delivery of eggs to children on Easter morning. True commercialism at it’s best.
After doing all of this research I started to really think about what Easter means to me. Again – I’ve celebrated it my entire life and never really known the meaning of the customs and traditions associated with the celebration of the resurrection. So when I really look at my heart and why we’ll be celebrating this weekend, is it “because we always have”, “because that’s what Christians do”, or “because it’s a good excuse to eat candy and deviled eggs for lunch.” Growing up it felt like Easter was all about a big family lunch and a new dress, but now that I’m older it’s taken on a deeper meaning. This year we’ll be celebrating Easter at a church we love, and I already feel like it’s going to be such a great weekend to be in God’s house praising him for the gift of His son. I’m so happy that I did a little research this Easter and hopefully if you’ve joined me on this journey you can appreciate these traditions in light of new knowledge. Happy Easter everyone!