Let’s face it, as a national religious celebration Easter has always paled in comparison to Christmas. Most American children can rattle off the Christmas story, some even able to recite the Bible's version from Luke 2 of Jesus’ birth that is prominently featured in a favorite Christmas cartoon.
Even those outside the Christian faith can hum a few Christmas carols. But can anyone even name an Easter carol?
A walk down the candy aisle at any grocery story might lead you to believe that Easter was merely a clever scheme to entice people to indulge their sweet tooth.
Easter is the most holy of days for Christians, the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells the familiar story of how He, after three days, rose from the grave defeating death and conquering sin for those who believe.
A recent survey commissioned by American Bible Society reveals that 69% of U.S. adults celebrate Easter as a religious holiday honoring the resurrection of Jesus while 17% celebrate Easter as a non-religious holiday.
But when it comes to Easter, most Americans want to have their jellybeans and eat them too.
According to the National Confectioner’s Association, 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies and 16 billion jellybeans are made for Easter each year. Each day of the year, five million marshmallow chicks and bunnies are produced in preparation for the holiday.
So how did candy-filled baskets—along with a bunny and painted eggs—become Easter traditions? And how did these frivolities come to usurp the real meaning of this sacred celebration for so many young people?
Perhaps it is because it is impossible to talk about Easter—Jesus’ resurrection—without talking about Good Friday—Jesus’ crucifixion. Celebrating Jesus’ victory over sin necessitates talking about the reality of our own sin.
I know parents may be inclined to shy away from these serious subjects and focus instead on chocolate bunnies, jellybeans and Easter egg hunts when talking with their children about Easter. While there is nothing wrong with these traditions, they need not (and for Christians should not) usurp the place of the real meaning of Easter.
For parents struggling to explain to their children the real meaning of Easter, the answer is as close as their nearest Bible. Each of the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—contain an account of the story of Jesus’ resurrection that first Easter.
Don’t miss the opportunity to thrill your children and remind yourself of that amazing morning when those who came to mourn Jesus’ death were greeted by an empty tomb and a risen Christ.
The story of the resurrection is a whole lot sweeter than anything you’ll find in your Easter basket.
Lamar Vest is the President and CEO of the American Bible Society. Founded in 1816, the American Bible Society exists to make the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so all people may experience its life-changing message.