Explaining the Easter bunny is a lot like explaining Santa. Santa is easy because that was simply the nickname given for St. Nicholas -- who is a great Christmas story. The Easter bunny is a little trickier, but still doable. How did the Easter bunny come to be associated with the celebration of the resurrection of Christ?
In ancient times the hare was a symbol for death and rebirth. There have been tombstones uncovered that had the symbols of the cross and the hare. It seems that early Christians used the pagan symbol as a witness to the true hope of resurrection from the dead.
The other reason for the symbol of the hare, and later the bunny, is simply the fact that the species has always been “prolific.” Every generation in history has known that rabbits multiply quickly. When I was a young girl, my sister and I had two rabbits. Soon we had a lot more. This is a little trickier to explain to kids, but the bunny can simply be a reminder of what Easter means to Christians.
When Jesus died on the cross, he gave the whole world the chance to be reborn. I like to explain the bunny as a reminder that after Easter the Christian church began sharing the message of new life in Christ and a lot of people were born again. Since that first Easter, billions of new Christians have been reborn as children of God. The Easter bunny can be a way to teach your kids that they were born as a child of their mom and dad, but one day they can be reborn as a child of God.
It’s fun to celebrate Santa and the Easter bunny, but it’s also important how we teach the truth about both. If we teach our kids the stories of the Easter bunny and Santa like the world explains them, there will come the inevitable time that you look at your kids and explain why you told them a lie. There are ways to be truthful and still enjoy Santa and the bunny.
My kids got Christmas stockings and Easter baskets. We celebrated Santa and the Easter bunny, but I didn’t teach either one the way the world told the story. We had fun on both holidays, but when my kids asked me if Santa was real, I told them the truth. They never even considered the fact a bunny left them the basket!
Our holiday wasn’t diminished in any way by the kids knowing the truth. In fact, I believe telling them the truth helped include an important perspective on both holidays. And when I told them about the holy Trinity, and the truth of salvation in Christ, they didn’t have to wonder if I was telling them a “story.”
Enjoy the Easter egg hunt, the pastel colors, and your family celebrations. But remind your kids that Easter is about the resurrection of Christ and the chance He gave everyone to be reborn as children of God. Your kids will be blessed to know the truth.