The egg was a symbol of rebirth even before Jesus came to the earth in the form of a man. Early Christians defined it as an Easter symbol after the resurrection. Eggs were compared to the empty tomb. The origins of this practice can be traced to Martin Luther, the Father of the Protestant Reformation. Egg hunts can also traced back to Martin Luther where women and children hunted for eggs in the remembrance of the empty tomb - women join in the fun because it was the women who first found the empty tomb after the Resurrection. Hundreds of years ago, churches encouraged people to not eat eggs during Lent, so eggs because a celebration on Easter when they could enjoy them again.
Easter and the Easter Bunny
Most likely came from the pagan celebration, Eostre, which celebrated the goddess of fertility. The rabbit was used as a symbol for fertility most-likely because the animal is down for its energetic breeding. German immigrants brought the tradition of the Easter bunny to the USA. Their bunny brought colored eggs into decorated nests. Eventually, this tradition morphed into baskets which included candy and gifts. Because “Easter” probably comes from the term for the pagan goddess, some Christians call “Easter” Resurrection Sunday.
Originated in Poland in the 7th Century and was brought to the USA by immigrants. Easter Baskets were filled with food that would be enjoyed the next day, Easter Sunday. The baskets were taken to the churches on Saturday to be prayed over and decorated with sprigs of boxwood, symbolizing new life.
Some other ideas you can use to focus on Jesus throughout the Easter Season:
Similar to a Jesse Tree which can be used during Advent, you can also use a similar (or the same) tree and decorate it with ornaments. Some have called this a “Jesus Tree.” Each ornament is associated with an important part of Jesus’ life and has associated Scripture to read when you hang the ornament on a tree. I suggest you print these onto card stock and have your children color the images. Then, you can even laminate them so that they’ll last from year-to-year. http://artmama.blogspot.com/2012/02/childrens-easter-bible-study-update.html
Easter Countdown Books
Similar to the Christmas Storybook box that I encourage for the Advent Season, you can also read books about Jesus, His life, and the Passion Week throughout the season of Lent. I recommend getting a special box to put out and putting a new book in daily (or every few days if you have fewer books). Have you children take turns opening the box to pull out the new book for the day. Snuggle up with your kids on the sofa to read and then leave the books out in an accessible location so that your kids can enjoy the books throughout the Easter season. Make sure to only keep these books out during Lent so that they are special when they are allowed again the next year. This will be a warm and joyful tradition. You do not have buy all these books but can check them out of your local library and add to your collection, little by little, each year. The receive a list and description of each of my book recommendations, join my email list below:
Come back next week for more ideas on how to have a Christ-Centered Easter.