Explaining Easter to children

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My son’s school has an Easter egg hunt coming up and they have all these songs about the Eater bunny and they will be all dressed up, painting and hiding and finding eggs and candy.

When I first saw the bulletin I was a little worried. Then my son came home and taught me “Here comes the Easter bunny…” and I panicked. I never thought I’d ever have to read up on pagan Easter traditions because these didn’t exist in my hemisphere when I was growing up. Neither did I ever think I’d ever have to worry about my kids thinking of Easter as anything other than about Jesus and his sacrifice.

My children, being young, do not quite understand the Easter concept (I asked my son what we celebrate over Easter last Sunday and he had no clue even though we have shared this with him before. Well, he also doesn’t remember the story about Jesus riding on a donkey- may be next Palm Sunday I should take him to a Catholic mass). My fear was that he will associate Easter with bunnies instead of the story of Christ dying for us, being killed by bad people, and rising again. I was afraid the school celebration was going to teach him to exalt a rabbit over a saviour, and to be more excited about candy than the cross. The teacher told me not to worry about it; they were just having a little fun.

I know the Easter story can be confusing and gruesome to children – evil people killing a good man, painful death on a cross, blood, darkness, scary voice from heaven, tomb, resurrection, forgiveness, ascension, second coming…

But it is a beautiful story that I realise only us as parents or grandparents or Sunday school teachers who know its power can tell it without trading it for the fun of painting eggs and eating chocolates. I realised I can’t wait for school or church to teach my children the real meaning of Easter- and the cross or assume no one will teach them something else. I have to do it myself.

I remember hearing the Crucifixion story every Good Friday while growing up and it made me terribly sad that people did such evil things to Jesus. And in my own childish way, that story moved me to love Jesus more because I knew I would never have done those bad things to him. And what a wonderful story it is because it has a happy ending for Jesus and for us. He rose again and therefore death has nothing on us. He died for us therefore he paid the price that separated us from God and we ca be God’s children and friends.

This week we’ve been watching animations of the Easter story with the kids. While they egg hunt at school, they know Easter is about God.

I did google about Easter bunny and the Christian parent’s response and here are some of the best responses I got.

“In helping them understand the Easter story, children need to understand that Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Christ, and in no way is there a correlation or story behind the Easter bunny or Easter egg that links this (this is not to say you should demonize the bunny and eggs for them, but to help them understand the non-relevance to the Christian faith).” Lagosmums
“Before you rush to embrace eggs or bunnies, be cautious and skeptical.
Steve Russo, a Christian evangelist from Ontario, Calif., and host of the radio program “Real Answers,” wrote a column for The Baptist Press regarding the issue of Christian parents and the Easter bunny. ‘Before we get too carried away about holiday traditions, let’s remember all the things that are such an integral part of our culture, things like birthday cakes and even calendars and the days of the week – all of which have pagan roots,’ wrote Russo.

“‘It’s not necessary to deprive your children of good fiction so long as they understand the difference between fact and fiction. If you are careful and wise in how you incorporate the Easter bunny tradition, it can be fun for you and your children and also provide a great springboard for your family’s discussion about why we celebrate Easter.’

Michael Houdmann for the evangelical website GotQuestions, agrees.

“It is thought that the word Easter comes from a pagan figure called Eastre who was celebrated as the goddess of spring by the Saxons of Northern Europe. A festival called Eastre was held during the spring equinox by these people to honor her. The name for a celebration of the sunrise and a change of season was eventually applied to the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ and the new era He heralded.

“The goddess Eastre’s earthly symbol was the rabbit, which was also known as a symbol of fertility.

“Should Christian parents allow their children to participate in traditional activities that refer to the Easter bunny? This is a question both parents and church leaders struggle with. There is nothing essentially evil about the Easter bunny, unless it is used to promote the goddess of spring or fertility rites. What is important is our focus. If our focus is on Christ and not the Easter bunny, our children will understand that, like Santa Claus, the Easter bunny is merely a symbol. As with Christmas, Easter should be a time to reflect upon and celebrate the incarnation, the resurrection and the risen Christ.” http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/articles/is-the-easter-bunny-an-abomination-before-the-lord.aspx?p=2#zy4E8o6jfREFRmDL.99
“So what’s the Christian parent to do? While each family must decide for themselves if they would like to celebrate Easter with or without eggs and bunnies, and even though there is no record of anybody hiding eggs around the cross on Golgotha, I personally interpret the heart of the Scripture to clearly point in the direction that these practices, even though pagan in origin, are not inevitably harmful, and today do no more honor to the old pagan gods or religions than using pagan names for the days of the week honors the sun, the moon, or Thor. Where the Christian parent must check her/his heart and mind, is the ease with which the “Easter/Christmas Mindset becomes a license for spiritual lukewarmness, allowing her/him to excuse worldly living and the lack of habitual observance of Sunday�s worship service because of observing Easter and Christmas, and maybe even going all out in the celebration of those holidays.

Thus, if you are able to enjoy the holiday, have chocolate, bunnies, and eggs without getting caught up in the worldliness that has embraced the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, and if you can celebrate without compromising your commitment to Christ and His church, then there is no harm in observing Easter. As a matter of fact, Easter can and should be a time of the greatest celebration of all!” familiesonlinemagazine.com

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