Easter is only a few days away. How scary is that?! April already and it feels like 2017 only started last week! So, as Easter fast approaches, what do you think it is all about?
What about the supermarkets and other shops?
Easter paraphernalia started to creep onto the shelves before school started back at the end of January. Chocolate rabbits, chocolate eggs, and hot cross buns advertised Easter 3 months early! The commercial realm has been pushing the chocolate theme hard. People are purchasing chocolate eggs like it is going out of fashion. Marketing is bombarding us with visuals of Easter Bunnies, chickens, and chocolate eggs all over the shop. It is in our letterboxes. There are raffles, promotions, reward points, sales, and more. It is all about getting us to buy up big on the chocolate.
In the commercial world, Easter is a money-racking time of the year. Big dollars are spent by consumers at this time of the year. Some people even go into debt so as to keep up with society’s expectations and the hype built up commercially.
What about families?
If the shops are advertising big about chocolate at Easter, it stands to reason that families would be thinking chocolate for Easter. Why wouldn’t they? It is all a person hears about and sees around them when in public and when watching TV. Easter movies and cartoons reinforce the Easter Bunny story. We hear how the Easter Bunny brings all the kids their chocolate Easter eggs the night before Easter, sometimes hiding the eggs so the kids have to go hunting for them. Some families go all out and put rabbit paw prints down on the floor for authenticity. Then the relatives visit and give more chocolate. Other families will have an Easter egg hunt in the garden with all the children who are there. Before you know it, each person has enough chocolate to last the rest of the year, if not longer. Though it rarely lasts that long!
Most families consider Easter as family time. It is a time of the year where the family gathers together and exchange gifts, showing how much they love and care for each other. For this reason, it is a very important time of the year for everyone.
What about the community?
It’s all about the Easter Bunny!
There are Easter hat parades, raffles, colouring-in competitions, guessing competitions, people dressed up as the Easter Bunny, Easter egg hunts, and much more. There is an air of excitement as Easter approaches. Children, especially, are susceptible to the hype around Easter. The build up of expectation is immense with many of them.
This can also place a lot of stress on families to “keep up with the Jones’” so-to-speak. As many families are financially challenged at the special times of the year, charities step in to help their kids be able to join in on the Easter celebrations. How heartbreaking for any child who gets nothing and hears all the stories from the other kids at school about what the Easter Bunny left them, or their parents and other relatives gave them! What does that do to a growing heart and mind?
Reality is, though, that many poor kids won’t get anything this Easter. There will be no warm-fuzzies for those families. Which brings me to this point – if Easter is primarily about family time, then why are the poor families so worried and sad about getting no chocolate eggs from the Easter Bunny? It is because society has taught them that Easter is indeed about the Easter Bunny and his chocolate eggs.
What is Easter really about then, if not about the Easter Bunny, chocolate or family?
Family time is certainly an honourable and cherishable sentiment, and one that I hold dear also. It is definitely a time for family to be together and strengthen bonds. But there is more to Easter than society will tell us.
Easter is a Christian festivity. Even if you are not religious in any way, shape or form, it is important to know the meaning behind Easter – where it began and why it has become such an integral part of our calendar.
The real Easter story is a message of hope and freedom.
It is a celebration of a life given to save others. That life given is a gift to all mankind, a bridge over a gap in a relationship, and an unrepayable debt paid in full. That life belonged to Jesus. He suffered unbelievable torture to the point of being unrecognisable and then was hung and killed in the most cruel and inhumane way on a crucifix. But the real Easter story doesn’t stop there. There is a happy ending. Jesus died and was buried in a tomb and on the third day rose from the grave – a sign that He has defeated Lucifer and conquered death.
Due to many nations being set up on Christian values by people who believed in the Christian faith, Easter was important to honour and hence time was segregated in the calendar for it. Even though religion has dwindled as important in people’s lives over the last century or so, it has remained steadfast as a publically acknowledged and celebrated holiday even though its original message is not told as widespread as it used to be.
Have you ever wondered why eggs are associated with Easter?
Well, it is because they are a symbol of life, and points to Jesus being raised from the grave. It also points to people being born again in Him.
Knowing the story of Jesus dying on the cross is not the same as believing and so by learning about Easter’s message does not mean you have to believe it. The Easter Bunny is a lot of fun and a fantastic story but unfortunately, for many, the Easter Bunny only offers heartache and grief.
In order to avoid an overload of chocolate and to reinforce Easter is not about chocolate, and to reinforce the value of family bonding, my family used to buy one egg and then a simple, cheap gift eg a cup with the egg in it, or a small toy chicken tied with a ribbon to the egg, or a small colouring-in book. Our children therefore, didn’t end up with an inappropriate amount of chocolate. If you don’t accept the Christian Easter origin about Jesus, there is still no reason why you couldn’t reinforce your family values of time together for Easter by reducing the importance of the chocolate, if not already.
You are in control of how Easter is run in your household and what is important about it, not the commercial world. So, take hold of the reigns. They are yours.