Have you put all your eggs in one basket? I have.
I’m thinking ahead to Easter and eggs and bunnies and flowers and, of course, bees. It’s Spring. Yellows, pinks, lavenders, blues and greens are crowding out the grays of winter and brightening our days. I’m celebrating and, yes, pondering.
Tell me. Where the heck did the Easter basket come from? If you said, the Easter Bunny, of course you’d be right. But, where did he come from? Am I scrambling your eggs yet?
As a child I loved waking up Easter morning to discover the basket full of goodies left by the Easter Bunny. It wasn’t Christmas, but it was a good day with lots of sweet things to eat. I never quite got the idea of a bunny delivering a basket of chicken eggs on Sunday morning when we were all dressed up in our new Spring outfits ready to go to church. Of course, not understanding didn’t interfere in the least with my ability to enjoy the candied eggs, marshmallow chicks and chocolate bunny nestled in the plastic “grass.” The chicks were my favorite.
Nevertheless, every Easter the baskets arrived. It was a tradition and I love traditions. They keep us grounded and usually have a smidgeon of truth, symbolism or history attached. So, I did a little research.
It turns out Easter, like Christmas is mingled with both Christian and non-Christian customs. The birth of Jesus is celebrated a few days after the Winter Solstice, which was a pagan holiday. The early church incorporated some of those pagan rituals into the Christmas celebration in an effort to help people accept the “new Christian faith.” The same is true for Easter.
Folklore tells us Eostra, the goddess of fertility, was honored in the Spring. The story says she found a bird dying from the cold and turned it into a rabbit with fur to keep it warm. But the hare still laid eggs like a bird. And of course a fertility goddess would make a rabbit — we all know how they can multiply! According to legend, Eostra carried a basket of eggs as a sign of life and new birth. Eggs were eaten at her festival and also buried in the ground to encourage fertility. (Gee, I”m beginning to connect the dots.)
Over time the tradition morphed into a white hare who brought colored eggs to good children on Easter. In the church calendar Easter follows the 46 days of Lent, a season of preparation for the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Many churches honor the season by giving up various indulgences, like meat or dairy (or chocolate). Once the fast is over, a basket filled with chocolate delicacies would be celebrated, no matter who brings it.
In the days when communities were small and everyone knew their neighbors, each family brought their Easter feast to the church in large baskets to be blessed by the priest. Today the traditions continue in the form of Easter egg hunts hosted in almost every community. Even the President of the United States adds his stamp of approval with an annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn.
Unlike Christmas, the timing of Easter is historically correct. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection happened at Passover. While the date changes each year because of the Jewish lunar calendar, Easter always heralds the beginning of Spring in Tennessee.
Appropriately, nature and faith merge to give us a physical illustration of a spiritual principle: new life and rebirth come through Jesus. After all, the essence of Easter is Jesus rose from the dead, a new creation. He defeated death with a new body destined for eternity and His resurrection power is our promise that we will have the same.
The resurrection assurance of Jesus is where I put all my hope (and eggs). It’s the promise that gives me power and authority today and it also gives me new hope for something much greater tomorrow.
What’s in your basket?
A wonderful addition to your Easter basket this year is Life Lessons from the Hive. A good book, a Kingdom promise, a little honey and some chocolate. What could bee better?