Sunday, April 04, 2010

Why We Have Bunnies And Colored Eggs At Easter

It Easter morning at our house.

It's so great to be able to sit on the back deck again, with my faithful black lab Suzy lying comfortably beside me, on such a beautiful Easter morning.

If you and your family celebrate Easter, then my most sincere Happy Easter to you.

If you don't celebrate Easter, then may you and your family have a wonderful beautiful day today.

I hope you have a better day than Suzy.

Suzy ate all of my eldest daughter Alannah's brightly colored and decorated Easter eggs last night – just before the girls were going to bed.

They had put them by the fireplace down in the family room – each in their own brightly colored Easter baskets. To entice the Easter Bunny to leave them lots of candy.

Poor Alannah was upset. She worked so hard on those eggs. They were really beautiful.

Poor Suzy. Not only did she get a good yelling at - she also got sick as a dog (literally!).

I never really understood our traditions of Easter.

It really makes very little sense.

Easter is supposed to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But instead, it seems to celebrate the sudden appearance of chocolates and candies, shaped like bunnies and eggs – in brightly colored baskets – delivered by the Easter Bunny.

How in the world did this tradition arise?

So, as with all deep and profound questions like this that I wrestle with … I Googled it.

Google will tell me the answer. The wise and resourceful Google can find me answers to any question I ask.

So I posed the question in the Google search box – "Why do we have Easter Bunnies?"

The result was some twenty million links.

Good grief.

So I started going through the first couple pages.

The first twenty or so were simply responses of others like me confused as to how this transition from the sacrifice's of Jesus to the little furry bunny delivering colored eggs in a basket could happen?

But then I stumbled on an answer. And as read more, the answer remained consistent.

No I am no theologian – not by any stretch of the imagination. I am simply a layman – and not in search of any controversy.

But this answer seems to make the most sense.

There were pagan festivals before Christianity grew to be a dominant ideology in the world.

There was one at the fall equinox – which we now know as Halloween.

Another at the winter solstice – which we now know as Christmas.

And yet another at the spring equinox – which is now Easter.

The spring solstice celebrated the rebirth of the earth – the fertility of the world.

And there is nothing more fertile than bunnies.

The hare was - at that point in time - the symbol of fertility.

The eggs of chickens were decorated and given to children. An affordable gift given the economic circumstances of the time.

The trade routes of the world had not yet brought chocolate to Europe – so the hollowed out bunnies were something tacked on to the tradition later – replacing other sweet treats that the children of those days were given.

Probably by a guy named Cadbury or Hershey.

Those pagan cultures of old Europe maintained these cherished festivals – and translated Christmas and Easter to fit them as their belief's transitioned to follow those of the new Christian churches.

Most of that day could not read.

Fewer of them had access to a Bible.

The early Christians of Europe were as dependent on their priests as they were when the Pagan sects were prominent.

The priests of that day were as powerful as the politicians.

As the Roman civilization spread its influence throughout Europe, it brought with it the Roman variation of the Christian church.

But the population was not willing to give up their cherished Winter and Spring festivals – so they were "Christianized" – changing the meanings to suit the needs of the new church.

And so now for Easter, the dual traditions carry forward.

Brightly colored and decorated eggs are left for the children to enjoy – celebrating the rebirth of Jesus – resurrected from his tomb after being crucified on the cross – to atone for all of mankinds sins before God.

This now makes sense.

I don't know how appropriate it seems – but it seem to fit – as the cultures of the world for the most part follow the path of least resistance when a new path or direction is offered.

What priest of those early days would go to his people – after directing them through a period of fasting to represent sacrifice – only to tell them the SpringSolstice festivities are cancelled because they are pagan practices of sinners?

"Spring Solstice was fun. You want us to give up our fun?"

It's much easier to redefine the purpose of the festivities – now to celebrate Christ's rebirth – his ascension to sit at the right hand of Our Father.

"And yes, you can keep the bunnies and the brightly colored eggs".

"Well then, I'm in!", chanted the new followers of this new religious faith.

As well, as today, there were many who profited from these festivals. Most likely people of power that the Church needed to align with.

Churches cost money you know.

People are people. Then like today.

But for all this new understanding I have come to this morning, there is still one burning question I have not been able to answer, asked by my seven year old daughter Ashley-Rae:

"Daddy, how does the Easter Bunny get in the house? Does he come in like Santa, down the chimney? And why doesn't Suzy bark at him while he's here?"

"I don't know, darling. I just don't know".

Good grief.

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