Apparently Spring is here (although you couldn’t really tell from where I sit in rainy, rainy, Seattle) and spring means…Easter! For most of my life, this was a holiday marked by one of two obligatory annual mass attendances and a ton of candy, most of it bunny-shaped. We knew it was kind of a religious holiday and counted it second fiddle to Christmas based on the lack of presents, ‘eve’ and build up. However, unlimited chocolate and a treasure hunt made it a pretty good holiday in our books. Even if we did have to go to church at some point during the day.
In Canada, Good Friday and Easter Monday are typically statutory holidays, so you could count on a three or four-day weekend, which for a grown-up is almost as good as unlimited candy, so I continued to think kindly of the holiday. It did tend to be the kind of holiday where you heard more squawking from the religious wing nuts (which was how I thought of anyone who regularly attended any kind of church back then) but it’s pretty easy to avoid them as long as you don’t actually go to church, so Easter was pretty bearable.
As an atheist at the time, I always appreciated how Easter could be compartmentalized and you could totally go the bunny route and not have to have those uncomfortable ‘have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?’ moments with the weird relative who you never have to see except on holidays.
So flash forward twenty years and a major psychological and spiritual conversion and all of a sudden Easter is Resurrection Sunday and THE most important day of the year for people of my faith. And yet there’s all this bunny stuff to contend with! As a Christian mom, I’m faced every day with challenges about how to explain our beliefs to my children in the proper context. There’s so much to it that kids just don’t get, and there are some very bad role models that have hurt people, and in turn my kids will be hurt in retaliation by association.
As it is now, Bisky is a very enthusiastic sharer of the ‘good news’ with whomever wants to listen, (and whomever doesn’t for that matter). She is very adamant that she loves Jesus more than anyone and says she MOST excited about Easter because that’s when Jesus ‘roasted the dead’…ummmm…
Now of course I know that she’s too young to really understand deep spiritual things. We’ve explained the basics, and I wrote a kids’ book called “The Real Christmas – The story about God, Heaven, Sin, and Jesus and why it all matters sooooo much!” (I haven’t figured out how to make it available on Kindle, because of all the pictures that make it appealing to kids, so if you want it, just message me, and I’ll email you a copy.) But anyway, we’re trying to instill the basics of grace and why it’s needed…partly for her own education, and partly so she doesn’t become a judge-y, legalist type because I don’t tend to like them much.
Admittedly, the timing and how this all works is a bit lost on her at this age. For example, when I came home from Aunty Karen’s house after the funeral with some of her things, Bisky was very appreciative, and mindful that we should keep some things aside for when Aunty Karen comes back from the dead so she won’t mind that we took all her stuff. She also has a somewhat laissez-faire attitude about death, believing at this point that everyone she loves will end up in Heaven, and speaks about it in a way that can be somewhat disconcerting if you’re accustomed to thinking about death as the end of everything. For example; “Grandma, when I’m older, I’ll come visit you at your house. Unless you’re dead.”.
As we’re getting ready for Easter, I’ve been a bit dismayed by how this holiday is portrayed. I googled Easter ideas for kids, and found 30 different ways to celebrate for kids – none of which mentioned Jesus. Just bunnies and eggs. Same for 11 alternate Easter party ideas, or 45 non-candy Easter baskets. If I were a traveler from another planet and observed this holiday, I’d walk away convinced that this was a pagan ceremony worshipping rabbits and eggs, celebrated at the vernal equinox and characterized by candy.
And don’t get me wrong…as a former atheist and hater of all things religious, I am fully aware that there were pagan fertility celebrations at the vernal equinox that used eggs and rabbits as their symbols, so I’m not super upset that my religion’s appropriation of the pagan celebration appears to be less than successful. It doesn’t make Resurrection Sunday any less meaningful to me or my kids.
But it does kind of make the bunny thing ridiculous, doesn’t it? I think Christians will always have a hard time trying to be relevant and/or assimilate into the prevailing culture. We’re not really called to and it doesn’t work all that well for us. I think if non-believers want to have Santa and the Easter Bunny it doesn’t hurt us any. I do think it’s kind of silly to celebrate Easter if you’re not either a Christian or a Pagan celebrating ancient fertility goddesses, but hey – any excuse to party. I think it’s more silly for people to get upset when ‘religion’ is ‘forced’ onto those holidays (as I used to feel so long ago). I did google gift ideas for other major holidays from other religions and they were unashamedly directly relevant to the faith at hand.
This year, we’ll be straddling the line. A friend shared a link to some Christian Easter Eggs that tell the story of Easter so we’ll be doing that, as well as Good Friday service and church. And yes, we’ll also be doing candy. Dreamy’s somewhat against the Easter Bunny and somewhat I’m pro, but not avidly, so I think we’ll hide the candy but not go too far out of our way to convince the kids it was the bunny and not us. I want them to be joyful and have fun, but I don’t want this to be just a silly holiday for them.
I’d be interested in hearing your perspective. If you’re not a Christian family – do you still celebrate Easter and what do you tell your kids about it? And if you are a Christian family, do you call it Easter and do the bunny thing? I don’t want to open a spiteful, name-calling debate, so if you’re mean, hate-y, or sarcastic I don’t care what team you’re playing for, I’m deleting your comments. But if you can contribute in the spirit of open dialogue, I’d like to hear.