Celebrating Easter: Chocolate Bunny Required?

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As I stood in line at the grocery store a couple weeks ago, I couldn’t help overhear the conversation of two moms in front of me. Discussing Easter, one of the moms shared how her kids were starting to ask for bigger items—things like video games—in their Easter baskets. The other mom quickly agreed, and added: “When did Easter become the new Christmas? When I was little, I was lucky to get a piece of candy.”

I was intrigued. Is Easter becoming a bigger and bigger consumer holiday? Parents, are you feeling more pressure to buy gifts, clothes, and fill Easter baskets?  

Sure, it’s hard to miss the aisles of candy—treats such as Starburst Jelly Beans, Caramel Cadbury Eggs, and Marshmallow Peeps. On top of that, there are stuffed animals, elaborate Easter outfits, and pastel colored decorations in abundance. Not to mention the countless emails from stores offering special Easter discounts.

I saw the Easter paraphernalia but still wasn’t sure. Is Easter a bigger deal to consumers than it was in previous years?

As it turns out, the answer is a resounding yes. A recent article in Forbes magazine reported that Americans spend more money on Easter candy than they do on Halloween candy. In addition, the article states that “the country spends about 2.5 times more on Easter’s pastel decorations and flowers ($17.3 billion) than Halloween’s costumes, spider webs, and plastic skeletons ($6.9 billion).”

According to the article, part of the reason for these numbers is simply that more people “celebrate” Easter. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), 80% of Americans reportedly plan to celebrate the spring holiday, whereas only 60% planned to celebrate Halloween.

As Christian parents, Easter is often a time we teach our children about the cost of sin. We talk about the cross; God’s sacrificial love on display for all to see. We talk about the resurrection and eternal life; we are filled with hope and gratitude.  

We may also buy Easter candy, fancy dresses and bunny ears.

I don’t think there's necessarily anything wrong with this. I love Easter candy as much as the next person (maybe more).

But is it a problem when the stuff becomes an expected requirement to celebrating Easter?

I’d love to hear about your experience:

  • Have you felt more pressure to spend money on Easter (candy, clothes, toys, etc.)?
  • How do you balance the secular and holy traditions?
  • Do you feel the real reason for Easter is getting lost in the new expectations of consumerism?
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  Is it possible that we as Christians are too passive about letting our religious holiday be "perverted" into something it's not? We look the other way as Christmas becomes about Santa Claus and we shrug when the Easter Bunny gets all the attention. We join in with the commercialism. I have asked a  non Christian friend "Why are you celebrating a Christian holiday? Would you celebrate a  Islamic holiday?  If you did, do you think a Muslim would be OK with that, especially if you weren't on board with the meaning of it?"  I then went on to explain why I celebrate the holiday and its importance to me. It's a conversation we should have more often, maybe even in line as we buy the Easter candy. 

Admin

Thanks for the thoughtful comment and call to be bold, Esther. 

It’s interesting to observe how people celebrate Easter, as well as Christmas.  I don’t think it is necessary to be offended by people who make Easter into a holiday of their own making.  For many, Easter is no more than a nice opportunity for family get-togethers and an opportunity to do something special for the children and grandchildren. Chocolate Easter bunnies are still standard Easter fare for many Americans and Canadians.  Even the U.S. president has a wonderful Easter egg hunt on the White House lawn.

For many North Americans, Easter is not a religious day of remembrance. The Christian message carries no meaning for them.  So why would they be inclined to celebrate it as such, any more than we would be inclined to celebrate Muslim or Jewish holidays according to their tradition.  North American culture is increasingly becoming multi cultural and multi religious.  The fact that North American businesses and work places give their employees off on these dates does not necessitate how these holidays should be spent.  So for increasing numbers of people, these holy days are becoming holidays, a time to enjoy family and friends.

I’ve heard it said that the date for Christmas was originally a pagan holiday that Christians chose to celebrate the birth of Jesus on.  So today we see, increasingly, our culture celebrating their own celebration on the date we celebrate the birth of Jesus on.  Perhaps it’s best if we just all get along together without taking offense. 

Admin

Thanks, Roger! Completely agree that we shouldn't be offended by the way others celebrate these holidays (I LOVED a good Easter Egg hunt growing up). But I also hope to be on the lookout for ways I can share what Christmas and Easter mean for me as a Jesus follower. 

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