What do rabbits, eggs, and candy have to do with salvation?
Easter is very special to us Christians, forming a bridge to the Jewish Passover Seder . That is why the date we celebrate Easter changes every year. We often call it “Resurrection Sunday” to emphasize the fact that we are celebrating the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He became the Passover lamb—the Lamb of God—sacrificed so that His blood would cover us and protect us from eternal death and punishment. But, only if we believe in Him and surrender our lives to His Lordship. He literally was the Last Supper, just as He said—“This is my body given for you, this is the new covenant in my blood . . .” (Luke 22: 19-20).
But, what is all this business about the Easter Bunny, Easter egg hunts, Easter parades, and Easter baskets full of candy? Why do we celebrate the Easter Bunny and Jesus?
Where does the Easter Bunny come from?
There is a lot of speculation about the word “Easter.” Some say it goes all the way back to Ishtar (eesh*tar), the Mesopotamian goddess of fertility and war. Others say that the word goes back to an Anglo-Saxon or Germanic goddess named Eostre. She was possibly a localized matron goddess associated with the dawn. It is said that Eostre changed her pet bird into a rabbit to amuse children. This bird-turned-rabbit brought forth eggs and gave them to children as gifts. Ancient beliefs often deteriorate into fable and tradition and this is likely what happened.
Some texts from the 16th and 19th centuries suggest that Germanic peoples told the story of Eostre as a fable (much like the modern-day fantastic stories of Santa Claus). The modern-day American celebration of Easter didn’t start until after Germans immigrated to America post-Civil War. Of course, this is because they brought their traditional fables and myths with them.
Rabbits and eggs have long been symbols of fertility. Modern-day pagans still incorporate rabbits and eggs into their spring equinox celebration, Ostara (which some say is just word for “Easter”).
Given all this history, what do Christians do?
The Easter Bunny and Jesus
It is obvious that bunnies, eggs, and candy have nothing at all to do with Jesus. We must practice discernment in this area. As Christians, we don’t believe in fertility goddesses or that rabbits have any symbolism of such things. Candy formed in the shape of a rabbit doesn’t inherently mean anything. The candy could just as easily be in the shape of a bear or a duck. However, the fact that egg hunts and giant rabbits only appear at this time of year should give us pause. Just as with any cultural tradition, we need to examine our reasons for participating. See some considerations about Halloween HERE. Here are some questions to ask ourselves:
- What do colored eggs mean to you, if anything? Some people feel that eggs symbolize new life, the new life they have in Christ.
- How do you view egg hunts? Some say that it is a fun game “to celebrate the coming of spring.” Hmmm.
- Why would a Christian take their child to see the Easter Bunny? While visiting Santa Claus has it’s roots in a real Christian figure, this practice does not. Think hard about this one.
- How does waking up on Easter morning to a basket of candy and eggs help a child understand who Jesus is and what He did?
I encourage every Christian to read 1 Corinthians 8 and think carefully about their answers to the above questions. We should never just blindly do what everyone does. And, we should never do something just because it seems fun and we don’t want to miss out. But, we also need to be careful not to slip into legalism or other dangerous practices that shackle us. Read 1 Corinthians 8 and pray about your response.