Sure, Easter coincides with the emergence of Spring—a joyous and vibrant time of year, when tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths are blooming in pinks, yellows, and purples, and new life is sprouting everywhere. Every Easter I brought my four children to church in their finest clothes, honoring a longtime tradition that celebrates new life. Our family colored eggs and participated in our town’s publicly funded annual Easter Egg Hunt. Parents gathered around on the Village Green, while their children, adorned in Easter finery, scrambled to fill their baskets with multi-colored eggs. It was a fun and festive way to mark a joyous and sacred day.
The Easter Egg—long a symbol of the resurrection—is a prominent part of our most sacred Christian holiday in which Catholics all over the world celebrate Jesus’ rising from the dead. Traditionally, the egg symbolizes Jesus stepping out of the rock tomb. It also symbolizes the rebirth in Christ that Christians celebrate on Easter. Despite what the commercial world would have you believe, the Easter Egg is rich with Christian symbolism
Yet America has commercialized this sacred holiday. Now it seems it is more about marshmallow chickens instead of of real baby chicks hatching in symbolic rebirth, and stories about Easter bunnies carrying eggs to children, instead of acknowledging the abundant new life the hare represents. Colorful ads focus on chocolate bunnies and jelly beans, and store aisles are filled with these tempting treats, beckoning from the shelves the moment Valentine’s Day is over. Families eat lamb on Easter Sunday without ever realizing it symbolizes the “Lamb of God.” They purchase lilies for relatives without knowing that the flower symbolizes the purity of the season. Some Christians even believe that the lilies sprang up at the foot of the cross where drops of Christ’s sweat fell as he died. Lastly, many see butterflies as just a part of this spring season, but to us Catholics they symbolize Christ’s death and resurrection, as the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis the way Christ emerged from the tomb.
But of all this resurrection symbolism, the most popular remains the annual Easter Egg Hunt. Parents hide the decorative eggs, and children all over America wait impatiently, with mounting excitement, for the search to begin. It is a way that parents can relay to children the joyful anticipation that rightly marks the Christian liturgical life in the Easter season.
But some people want to change that. They want to change the name of the traditional hunt to this new, politically correct name. Many schools are under pressure to not make anyone feel left out and may be prohibited from mentioning anything in reference to religion in their activities. One school in Seattle
last year went so far as to rename Easter Eggs, “Spring Spheres.”
This hypersensitive trend toward secularism seemingly began when people fought to take prayer out of schools because they didn’t want anyone to be offended. Then they started to call Christmas and Hanukkah the “Holiday season.” They stopped singing Christmas carols in schools. Now our kids are told to go hunting for Spring Spheres. What’s next? Will they start calling the Jewish Menorah a “Holiday Candle Display?” When does this anti-religious political correctness end?
In diluting religious expression, we disrespect a beautiful and essential part of American culture. Allowing people of different religions to practice their holidays and customs peacefully, freely, and openly helps people to feel more comfortable and welcomed by society. Stigmatizing religious holidays from public celebration in the name of political correctness leads to the marginalization of people of faith. This is particularly problematic for minority religions. What of Muslims, Hindus, or Baha'is? Will their religious holidays be renamed—or even tolerated in the public square?
Religious holidays are not generic occasions for all. As a society we should not allow hypersensitive individuals to rob religious holidays of their meaning. And, as parents, we should teach our children to be tolerant and appreciative of all religions. That means not making religious holidays into commercial spectacles while forcing the religious celebrants to rename their holiday to conform to some blase societal label.
Growing up Catholic, my children loved their Easter Egg Hunts. There have always been Easter Egg Hunts and there always will be Easter Egg Hunts. I refuse to recognize “Spring Egg Hunts” and call on other Christians to do the same. Spare me the Spring Spheres.L.A. Strucke is a writer and mother of four children living in New Jersey.