It’s no sin to enjoy Easter bunnies and decorated eggs, but the true cause of celebration is the risen Christ.
By Dr. Larry Keefauver
Easter is surrounded by various traditions like Easter bunnies and Easter eggs. First, let’s see where these came from. Venerable Bede, the Benedictine monk and historian, writes that Easter derives its name from Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. Of course, Easter corresponds to the time Jesus was crucified at Passover. The Jewish date of Passover changes each year since it is calculated based on a lunar and not solar calendar.
My Orthodox Christians friends in the Middle East and Greece paint eggs bright red to symbolize the blood of Christ. Hollow eggs are decorated with pictures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and other religious figures in Armenia. Germans give green eggs as gifts on Holy Thursday, and hung hollow eggs on trees. Austrians place tiny plants around the egg and then boiled them. When the plants are removed, white patterns are created.
Since Easter happens in spring, hares and rabbits—which have long been symbols of fertility and new life—have been included. The inclusion of the hare into Easter customs appears to have originated in Germany, where tales were told of an “Easter hare” that laid eggs for children to find. German immigrants to America—particularly Pennsylvania—brought the tradition with them and spread it to a wider public. They also baked cakes for Easter in the shape of hares, and may have pioneered the practice of making chocolate bunnies and eggs. (Source: www.infoplease.com/spot/easterintro1.html)
WHAT SHOULD BE THE EMPHASIS AT EASTER?
Christos anesti, Christ is risen, has been the Good News declaration from the Gospels through the ages. Jesus Christ died for our sins and God raised Him from the dead. He is the firstfruits of those whom God will raise from the dead who trust Jesus as Lord and Savior (1 Corinthians 15).
The focus of Easter is Resurrection, not bunnies, eggs and other cultural traditions. That’s not to say we can’t enjoy them; rather, we should not be distracted by cultural celebrations. The real gift and tradition we pass on each Easter is the good news that Jesus has conquered death with death and now lives. He died to shed His blood and ransom us from death to life, from sickness to health, and from hell to heaven. Trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior brings us salvation for eternity.
The ancient Orthodox Christian hymn really says it all:
Χριστός ανέστη εκ νεκρών, θανάτω θάνατον πατήσας, και τοις εν τοις μνήμασι ζωήν χαρισάμενος.
Christ is risen from the dead,
trampling down death by death,
and to those in the tombs,
Jesus’ resurrection is the premier event in all history. Only one religious leader in all history was raised from the dead and now sits on the right hand of God—Jesus the Messiah from Nazareth. Jesus Christ, crucified on the cross for our sins, has risen from the dead, destroyed death and gives all those who believe in Him life everlasting.
He is risen!