ControverSunday – Finding Meaning in the Easter Bunny

I have been following the blog, Our Lady of Perpetual Bread Crumbs, for a while now. Each Sunday she posts a controversial topic then asks others to blog about it. This week she has asked AMoment2Think to host. This week’s topic – whatever you want to blog about as long as it is inspired by another’s blog post. You can discover all the rules here.

For me, today’s post is inspired by AMoment2Think’s post titled, The Other Thing I do on Sunday. In this post, she describes the reasons that she goes to church although she defines herself as agnostic. I felt that this was an appropriate post for this Easter weekend. Easter is a deeply religious holiday but also one that seems to be celebrated without thought of its meaning. Her post made me think about the importance of reflection and instilling meaning in our lives and those of our children.


Pastel bunnies and egg themes adorn windows. Daffodils and lilies are ready to take home from the market. There are hot crossed buns and Easter bread in the bakeries. Stores stock walls of chocolate and cutesy bunny-themed gifts. Good Friday is a statutory holiday. And the holy week is marked by Christian pageantry such as carrying a cross through town.

Today is Easter Sunday. And last week I got the question from the Bear, “why do we celebrate Easter?”

Until this year, I thought that Easter clearly had two sides – the Christian tradition of celebrating the resurrection of Christ on one side and the commercialization of the Easter bunny and chocolate on the other.

And here were MJ and I, somewhere in the middle – respecting the Christian message of rebirth and indulging in a bit of chocolate with the Bear but remaining non-committal to either side. No communion, no Easter basket, and critical of the consumption that holidays like Easter tends to inspire.

But I learned something new this year. The Easter holiday originally stems from the celebration of Eastre, a pagan Saxon goddess. Eastre was the goddess of dawn, spring and fertility. Her symbols included the hare and the egg – both symbols of fertility. Later, the Christians found it practical to continue celebrating Eastre’s holiday and Christianized the holiday to emphasize the resurrection of Christ. The symbol of the egg also has roots in many earth-based traditions as a sign of spring and new beginnings.

How does this relate to this blog, you may ask?

I believe that an important part of parenting is being mindful of why we do the things we do. If we want to encourage our children to ask the question ‘why,’ then, as parents, we must be prepared to empower them to explore the answers. Rather than just accept holiday symbols around us, it is our responsibility to give them life.

So today, we went to church with my family. And the Bear had some Easter chocolate. But ultimately we celebrated spring.

However you choose to celebrate this day, I hope that it is done with mindfulness. Happy Easter.


9 Responses to “ControverSunday – Finding Meaning in the Easter Bunny”

  1. 1 Perpetua April 9, 2010 at 2:57 am

    You’re so right about mindfulness. I’m realizing now, with E, that everything is going to need a reason. Why we pee on a toilet? That’s going to need a reason, too. 🙂

    I’m not sure how we’re going to tackle the bigger questions about religion once he gets old enough to understand it, though in some ways being a two-religion house makes it easier because we are already primed to say, “There are many stories about the world. Here are two of them.”

  2. 2 Brooke April 7, 2010 at 5:21 am

    I have often thought of writing a children’s book about the real meanings and traditions of holidays. I think it would be a great addition for exploring our culture (and even that of others- what a thought!). While I am not shy about consuming, it is important to be reminded to be mindful about it!

  3. 3 Mama Tortoise April 5, 2010 at 4:19 am

    Thanks for your comments, Ginger and Heather.

    Easter always seems to be one of those holidays where people just go through the motions without thought to the meaning. I doubt the parents who take their children to have their photo taken with the Easter bunny in the mall have any idea what they are celebrating.

  4. 4 Ginger April 4, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Oh, I love this post! So many people don’t understand (or don’t want to share with their kids) the pagan origins for the religious holidays we celebrate. But like you said, if we want to encourage our kids to be inquisitive and ask why, we need to be willing and able to delve into the answers.

  5. 5 Heather April 4, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Easter to me has always been in some way a celebration of spring and new life, but I never fully thought of it until I had Joseph. And although he does not understand yet that there was a basket with a book and a small toy for him this morning, I was thinking about how I would explain to him the meaning of Easter to us and to other people around the world. And although we we are not religous… And never will be, I do think it’s important for him to understand how and why people celebrate. I am thrilled to hear that Easter originated as a pagan celebration of spring and new life…and somehow I knew this, and I’m not surprised that this too was taken and turned into a Christian tradition. And I can’t wait for Joseph to start asking why.

  6. 6 amoment2think April 4, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    What a lovely post! I am so glad you joined in. I think your point about being aware of the meaning behind holidays and our responsibility as parents to empower our children to ask ‘why’ is wonderful. Welcome to the ControverSunday team!!

  7. 8 Bruce April 4, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Happy birthday Laura!
    And happy Jesus Zombie day!

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