Some people are uncomfortable with the fact that many of the current customs and traditions that surround religious holidays seem purely secular, having nothing to do with the true meaning of the religious nature of the holiday being celebrated. The celebrations that surround most Christian holidays, however, include many traditions whose origins are other than Christian. As Christians prepare for the celebration of Easter, we once again see the mixture of sacred and secular traditions as bunnies, eggs, and resurrection flow together in the celebrations of most people who celebrate Easter.
The mixing together of Christian and non-Christian traditions has never really upset me. In fact, I embrace this confluence of traditions because I believe that in order for anything to actually become an ongoing tradition, it must in some important way connect to and help amplify the meaning of what is being celebrated. For me, there is ultimately no separation between the sacred and the secular; that which is sacred is present in every aspect of life no matter what day of the year it is.
Our modern celebration of Easter includes many traditions with non-Christian origins. One of my favorites is the tradition of Easter eggs which comes from an ancient fertility rite. Who doesn’t enjoy placing a hard boiled egg in a cup of dyed water and watching it almost magically take on the color of the dye? And for the more adventurous, there is the tradition of egg blowing, whereby an egg is carefully emptied through the careful blowing out of the whites and yolk and then carefully decorated.
Then there is my favorite tradition of all, the tradition of the hunting for eggs. I love Easter egg hunts! I loved participating in them as a child and I loved creating them every year for our three children. This Easter tradition, while carried out in many homes, is also celebrated in many churches and community centers as well, including the White House which has been hosting one for 135 years.
An Easter egg hunt is a perfect example of how a non-Christian tradition helps illuminate and amplify the truth of what Christians are celebrating on Easter. Easter egg hunts remind us that sometimes we have to look around and do a little searching to discover the signs of resurrection around us. Sometimes the signs of resurrection are obvious and easy to find and sometimes they are more hidden and we have to work a little harder to uncover them. The Easter egg hunt also shows us that we are better off if we go looking for resurrection together. Who ever heard of a solitary Easter egg hunt, of a person looking for eggs alone? The discovery of resurrection, too, is always more fruitful when experienced in community with others and is a lot more fun that way as well.
There is one final truth regarding resurrection that we can also learn from the tradition of the Easter egg hunt. In order for there to even be an Easter egg hunt, someone has to first make the commitment to place the eggs in their hiding places. When it comes to resurrection it is God, of course, who has already placed the signs of resurrection in countless places in our world. Now it is up to us to search for them, and when we discover them, to rejoice with the same delight as young children do at an Easter egg hunt when they discover the hidden eggs.
We at Living Compass wish all of you a most joyous Easter.