DR. CATHLEEN MCGREAL is a psychology professor and certified spiritual director.
Q. I love the tradition of the Easter Bunny, but don’t want to take away from the real meaning of Easter. How do I incorporate the fun without losing sight of the resurrection?
A. When I was a child, my grandma taught me how to honor Mary by making flower bouquets to leave on the doorsteps of our neighbors on May Day. Years later, I discovered that the tradition originated in pre-Christian Ireland. An ancient Gaelic tradition had been integrated with Christianity by focusing on Mary. Many cultural traditions have been associated with Catholicism.
Eggs and the Easter Bunny.
Catholicculture.org describes Easter symbols. Eggs symbolized spring in pre-Christian times, but they became symbols of the resurrection. Eggs were forbidden during Lent for many centuries, and were associated with breaking the Lenten fast. Easter egg hunts were common; in France it was said that the eggs were dropped into yards by flying church bells. In Germany, the eggs were delivered by the Easter Bunny.
Make Lent and Easter meaningful.
Build family traditions during Lent. Read books about saints sharing the names of your children. Make a calendar listing the dates of each family member’s baptism anniversary, and decide how to celebrate these special dates. Sort through toy boxes to find items that can be donated. Check out the family Lenten programs sponsored by your parish. Be flexible so that, as your children grow older, age-appropriate changes can be made.
Emphasize the Easter triduum.
Rather than focusing on the coming of the Easter Bunny, emphasize the triduum. Read Bible verses, and ask your children to draw pictures illustrating them. Decorate your home with these drawings rather than bunnies! Color eggs on Holy Saturday and explain why the egg is an Easter symbol. Your children can enjoy the momentary fun of the Easter Bunny in the context of a meaningful journey through Lent leading to the joy of the resurrection.