April 4, 2010


When I was a child, my parents were careful about limiting secular influences. Anything that could be associated with paganism or the occult was strictly forbidden. There were a lot of things that I didn't do and see as a child. This also carried over into the holidays, which meant that my family didn't celebrate Easter. Instead, we observed Passover (based on Jesus' instructions to the disciples).
While the Christians around us celebrated Easter, only the "heathens" had egg hunts and the Easter Bunny. If you had asked me, I would have given you a long speech about the roots of each symbol, which were viewed as part of a master plan to eliminate the Christian aspect of the holiday.
When I started dating, DH, I knew that his family participated in what I "knew" to be pagan and secular. But I never anticipated the conflicts that would arise when DH and I had children of our own. I guess I thought that I would miraculously bring DH and his family around to my way of thinking. Any guess on how well that's going?
Needless to say, those traditions in DH's family continue even now, with the cousins now bringing their kids to the old homeplace for eggs hunts.
While we didn't attend the family Easter dinner/egg hunt this year, we have done so every year in the past. Barring unforeseen circumstances, we will attend next year. At some point between now and next year, I have to determine what exactly I tell my son about the holiday.
Right now, BB knows the story of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. He knows that there are Easter eggs and egg hunts, although he's never asked why he doesn't do so. The first few years I kept him inside during the egg hunt so he didn't know what he was missing. Next year I won't be able to get away with that. So how do you explain why you don't do something without demonizing those that do?
I know that I'm not going to give BB the same speech about Druids and fertility rites that I heard as a child. Given my penchant for making my faith a solely intellectual religion, I know better to engage on a complete sweep of all that is secular. To do so would ultimately create within me a sense of self-righteous pride and my reasons for not doing things would become my religion.
There are those who acknowledge the pagan roots of egg hunts and still carry them out as a sign that the pagan roots have been redeemed. In a way I do agree with this line of reasoning, but that seems too easy to me. Even if you do use the "eggs represent the new life we have in Christ" argument, why hide the eggs and fill them with prizes? Doesn't the candy then become the focus of the holiday?


  1. We've had these same debates in our family as well. My DH doesn't want to create a situation where he feels as though he has lied to our children. So, we don't really forbid Caleb from participating in the holiday rituals, but we make sure he knows the truth. He knows there's not an Easter Bunny, and I'm pretty sure he knows there's no Santa. However, we've explained that he is NOT to ruin it for any other child. These things apply to our immediate family, but not to the rest of our family and friends. So, while we do carry on some of the holiday traditions, we do make sure to instill the truth in Caleb. My DH didn't want to create a situation where he has made up stories about these ppl (Santa, Easter Bunny, etc), and then have Caleb use those against us when it comes to discussing Christ. We want him to have faith in what we say, so we try to make sure that it's all truth. So far, it's working. Hope this helps!

  2. Despite the pagan origins of Easter (and Christmas for that matter) are very real and are something Christians should think about. However, who can deny that in today's culture Easter egg hunts (and Santa Claus) are nothing more than games people play. Santa's not a good example since St Nicholas IS a Christian figure...not a pagan one.

    My kids will grow up knowing that Easter is about Christ and Christmas is about Christ through and through. We may say "hey look what Santa brought *wink wink*!" But they will know all along I put the presents there. Easter egg hunts will be symbol of new life and easter egg hunts will be a game we play. Nothing more.

    It is possible to over analyze these things, I think. Easter egg hunts and Santa Claus were parts of my childhood (I even truly believed such a person existed) but it never stunted my spiritual growth nor did I ever even know of Easter (and Christmas's) pagan origins until a few years ago.

  3. Hi.
    I agree with Josh that these things can be over-analyzed. And I think that's what you're doing.

    Here's the thing, Heather: There are MILLIONS - MILLIONS - of Christians out there who grew up with egg hunts, the Easter Bunny, Easter Baskets and Santa Claus, etc., who are good, decent and authentic Christians. I know them and you know them. So my point is: If they "made it" to authentic Christian faith, why can't your child? (And I'm talking about REAL Christians, not the run-of-the-mill "secular" types.)

    If you ask these people what their biggest obstacle to Christian faith has been, I doubt ANY OF THEM would ever cite the Easter Bunny or chocolate eggs. Seriously, think about that. Obstacles to growth in Christian belief and virtue don't routinely come in the form of candy. They come in the form of doubt, selfishness, and serious sin, etc., engendered by the evil one.

    Christ's resurrection is a source of joy and hope for Christians. Your son is a mini-Christian with only the basest understanding of these things, and so, it's not wrong to provide a source of joy to a child in terms he can relate to. For kids, a basket with jelly beans and a couple of toys or an egg hunt ARE ways he can experience joy. As long as that joy is consistently explained in terms of Christ, year after year, there should be no worries. As long as you and your husband's day-to-day behavior and testimony for Christ are consistent with Christianity, your son will never mistake the real meaning of the resurrection with marshmallow peeps. Oh sure, for a few years, he'll seem to care more about the basket than the story about the resurrection, but that's how it is with everything with kids, is it not?

    Quiet perseverance day in and day out for years upon end in teaching your son wins. The egg hunt is one day a year.


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