Should Christians celebrate Easter Sunday?

Here we are, Easter Sunday approaching, and some days we receive more questions about the Easter bunny than we do about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Among Christians, there is a significant divide in convictions regarding Easter Sunday. Some Christians have the conviction that the Easter bunny and Easter eggs are innocent cultural traditions that can be incorporated into Easter Sunday. Other Christians are vehemently opposed to the Easter bunny and Easter eggs, pointing to horror stories involving pagan rituals and child sacrifices to spring fertility goddesses.

It is entirely true that the Easter bunny and Easter eggs traditions have decidedly non-Christian origins. There is some debate as to the precise origins, but it is pretty much universally accepted that their origins are in spring fertility rituals. Why bunnies? Bunnies are very fertile creatures. Why eggs? Eggs symbolize new life about to blossom. Why spring? Winter symbolizes death, spring symbolizes a fresh start. While there were undeniably some evil practices in some cultures regarding spring, and of course these practices should be completely avoided, the core concepts behind celebrating the arrival of spring are not inherently evil. In a sense, spring can even be understood to symbolize the resurrection. Where there was once death (Jesus’ death and burial), there is now new life (Jesus'’ resurrection).

So, while Christians should never allow bunnies and eggs to become the focus of Easter Sunday, I do not think Christians should crusade for the absolute abolishment of such things. We must remember that the non-Christian world around us is just that — non-Christian. We should not expect non-Christians to have the same beliefs, practices, and traditions as Christians. Non-Christians see Christians boycotting Easter eggs due to spring fertility rituals that occurred 1000+ years ago as inane. Non-Christians inherently view the things of God as foolishness (1 Corinthians 2:14). We do not need to add to this spiritual blindness (2 Corinthians 4:4) by behaving foolishly ourselves.

It is sad to see some Christians fighting so strenuously against Easter Sunday that they do not have time to celebrate what the day is supposed to be all about — the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Fine, let's start calling it Resurrection Sunday. But, if we are going to do that, shouldn’t we actually focus on celebrating the resurrection? Maybe if non-Christians see us joyfully and wholeheartedly celebrating the resurrection instead of harassing anyone who dares to paint an Easter egg or eat a chocolate bunny, maybe, just maybe, they might be curious as to what is different about us.

Imagine that! Christians being called peculiar for celebrating our relationship with Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:9). Christians being identified by their love for God and love for each other (John 13:35; 1 John 2:7-17). Christians being known for what they stand for, not for what they stand against.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

S. Michael Houdmann

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Should Christians celebrate Easter Sunday?