Rejoice! It's time to celebrate! Our Lord is Risen!
There is a joy in the air on Easter morning that doesn't happen any other day of the year. You can feel it, nature rejoicing, Jesus has risen! Spring is here, a time of new beginnings. Baby animals are born, the chicks and rabbits we now associate with Easter, symbolizing new life. And in the midst of all that joy, is an Easter Bunny bringing us a basket. Those Easter baskets filled with Easter eggs, candy, and toys for outdoors tell us that spring is here! Soon we will be going outside to play.
According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Children made nests for it to lay its colored eggs. and often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping. The "Easter Hare" originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behavior. In legend, the bunny carries colored eggs in his basket, candy, and sometimes also toys to the homes of children. The custom was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Franckenau's De ovis paschalibus (About Easter Eggs) in 1682 referring to a German tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter eggs for the children.
The tradition of an Easter Basket goes back even further that of the Easter Bunny.
According to Wikipedia "Ancient cultures brought seedlings in baskets to temples for a blessing, to pray that crops would be bless the rest of the year. The use of Easter baskets as we know them today developed from the Lenten fast. During Lent, which lasts for 40 days before Easter, many Christians abstain from certain foods or treats until Easter comes. The tradition of feasting on a large Easter meal symbolizes the end of Lenten fasting. In earlier times, this Easter feast was brought in large baskets to church to be blessed by priests. In Poland Swieconkaor "the blessing of the Easter baskets" is a central tradition on Holy Saturday. The tradition dates back to the 7th century in its earliest form. The basket is traditionally lined with a white linen or lace napkin and decorated with sprigs of boxwood , the typical Easter evergreen. Baskets containing a sampling of Easter foods are brought to church to be blessed on Holy Saturday. After the blessing, the baskets of food are then set aside until Easter morning."
Easter is a time we remember the gift of new life Jesus gives us. As Christians we sometime get hung up on the facts that these traditions have pagan roots-not Christian ones. However, pagans could only pervert what God had created. Let the Easter bunnies, baskets and eggs remind you of God's redemptive plan. And greet spring with joy, Christ has risen! There is new hope and new life for you in this next season. God's redemptive plan is working in you, through you, and for you.
There are many ways of using the Easter basket to spread the joy of the gospel. Here are some of my favorites:
Finger puzzle: http://paththroughthenarrowgate.com/easter-finger-puzzle/
Free Printable: Jelly Bean story, M&M story, and bookmark
What are you filling your Easter baskets with? I'd be delighted to hear about it. Let me know in the comment section.
Happy Easter Everyone!