DOWN IN FRONT
Bunnies, Eggs and Easter
By David W Roach
In the home of my youth, Easter was second only to Christmas. My mom prepared baskets of green raffia and filled them with candy eggs and chocolate bunnies and placed them in front of the fireplace for us to find on Easter morning. “Look what the Easter Bunny brought,” mom would announce.
Like Santa, the Easter Bunny was accepted as a given (the same was true for the Tooth Fairy). That’s what the Easter Bunny did. Santa brought toys at Christmas and the Easter Bunny brought candy on Easter. And at church, Sunday School children hunted for colored eggs hidden in the shrubbery. This too was a given.
Therefore it came as something of shock when one of my friends said that their preacher forbid egg hunting at church. He called it “pagan” and something Christians shouldn’t do. I didn’t know what “pagan” meant, but rather than ask, I decided that it must mean something foreigners do. My daddy often talked about meeting with some French colleagues, so I decided egg hunting was French.
We didn’t hunt eggs at home. The day before Easter mom brought out hard boiled eggs, food colors and bowls of hot vinegar. We experimented with dipping eggs into different colors. On Easter morning we ate the eggs for breakfast.
I gave up believing in Santa and the Easter Bunny (the Tooth Fairy ceased to interest me when the last of my baby teeth fell out.) Santa made a brief return when my son was born. It didn’t last because my son quickly figured that it was me all along. (Please do not share this with any children.)
I have since learned that the Easter Bunny was brought to America by German immigrants. (I missed by one country to the left.) Colored eggs have been around since the 13th century. Upon further research I have learned that the Easter Bunny is Christian, one of several animal symbols of the Virgin Mary. The colored eggs (originally Red) represented Christ’s blood. Live chicken eggs were placed in baskets beside the beds of children and timed to hatch on Easter morning. The children went to sleep with a lifeless looking egg and awoke to find a baby chick; a pretty good symbol of the resurrection.
In a time when few people could not read and Bibles were not readily available, symbols like bunnies and colored eggs help get the message across. Central to that message is the death and resurrection of Jesus.
So, it isn’t that bunnies and colored eggs are pagan, but that we have forgotten what bunnies and colored eggs represent. Through the death of Jesus we are reconciled to God and the resurrection is confirmation that we are at peace with God.