In the last week, a few of my friends asked whether I plan on dressing-up my 9-month old as a bunny for Easter. At first, of course I thought it was a cute idea but after hearing the same suggestion from 3 more people, I realized it might be a "thing" to dress up kids as bunnies for Easter. Keep in mind - I did not grow up in the U.S. so this was new to me. I was intrigued.
To get a little more information, I randomly asked around about what the Easter traditions in America were and was surprised to hear about Egg Hunts, Easter Bunnies, decorating eggs and baskets of candy. My biggest surprise however, was that my friends failed to mention anything about the main reason why we all celebrate: The Resurrection of Christ.
Just like Christmas, Halloween and Thanksgiving, Easter has become a "Hallmark holiday"; a term used to describe a holiday that is perceived to exist primarily for commercial purposes, rather than to commemorate a traditionally or historically significant event.
Easter is the oldest and most important festival in the Christian Church, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the northern spring equinox.
My most precious memories when I was a child were on Easter. On Holy Thursday, we would visit 7 Churches, which is a Roman Catholic Lenten tradition. On Good Friday, as a girl scout, I was part of the Way of the Cross Parade where scouts would march on the sound of drums around the church holding crosses. On Easter Sunday, my mom would dress us up in our finest spring clothes and we would attend mass, the Easter Parade and then the family would gather at my grandmother’s to enjoy a nice festive dinner. Yes, we would color eggs, make brioche and eat a ton of chocolate but never did we classify the day as a candy fest. To us, it was simply a complement.
The origins of the Easter Egg and Easter Bunny:
The Egg symbolizes new life and rebirth. It originated in the early Christian community of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of the Christ, shed at his crucifixion.
The Easter Bunny is the “Santa Claus” of Easter, a gift-giving character in American culture. Why a bunny? Rabbits are a synonym of fertility and rabbits (or hares) mate in the springtime. German immigrants brought their tradition of an egg-laying hare called "Osterhase" to the U.S. in the 17th century. Children made nests in which the “Osterhase” could lay its colored eggs. This German custom eventually spread across the US and became an Easter tradition. The Easter Bunny would deliver chocolate, candy and gifts in decorated baskets (instead of nests) on Easter Sunday.
Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in America, after Halloween. It is estimated that Easter spending will reach $18.2 Billion this year of which candy represents 89% of total planned purchases!!!
Whether you celebrate Easter/Christmas or Passover/Hanukah or any other religious holiday, it is important to go back to its roots and meaning. We can’t avoid commercialization just like we can’t avoid globalization, but it’s important to teach our children about the meaning of those religious holidays, even if we are not religious. Commercialization overshadows culture, traditions and religion, and replaces moral values and beliefs with candy, costumes and holiday sales.
While you are enjoying your chocolate bunny this weekend, take a moment to remember what Easter is all about, explain it to your children and make some lifelong memories with your loved ones.
After-all, Holidays are all about family gathering and sharing!