If you’re going to have an Easter egg hunt, people tend to get upset if you remove the word ‘Easter’ from the event’s title.
An annual Easter egg hunt event in London has a new name, and the British prime minister isn’t happy about it.
Cadbury and the National Trust, a charity, rebranded the Easter Egg Trail as the Great British Egg Hunt, a move Prime Minister Theresa May called “absolutely ridiculous.” There are some 300 separate egg hunt events at National Trust properties as part of the overall campaign.
While the word Easter is mentioned in promotional material for the event, May is not happy with the stance she says has been taken on Easter itself.
“I don’t know what they are thinking about frankly,” she said, according to Time. “Easter’s very important… It’s a very important festival for the Christian faith for millions across the world.”
Predictably, she is being joined by church leaders who don’t appreciate the fact that so an important a day in the Christian faith is suddenly not part of the title.
Easter, of course, is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection two days after being crucified.
If you’re a believer, it might be hard to not feel at least something of a slight because the word isn’t in the title. What’s ironic here, however, is that some of the same Christians who’d jump on the outrage bandwagon aren’t themselves fans of the “easter egg hunt” concept because they say it takes attention away from the “real” meaning of the day.
But history is not on their side of that argument: the Christian tradition of decorating eggs actually came from the pre-dynastic period of Egypt and the early cultures of Mesopotamia and Crete, in which eggs were associated with death and rebirth, as well as with kingship and were commonly placed in graves of the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians as early as 5,000 years ago.
The Christian custom of Easter eggs, specifically, started among the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs with red colouring “in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at His crucifixion.”
A statement issued by Cadbury didn’t exactly smooth things over.
Cadbury said in a statement that it was “simply not true to claim that we have removed the word ‘Easter’ from our marketing and communication materials.” Preaching a message of inclusiveness, it added, “We invite people from all faiths and none to enjoy our seasonal treats.”
The National Trust, for its part, claimed the suggestion it was trying to downplay Easter was ]“nonsense:”
A casual glance at our website will see dozens of references to Easter throughout.
Throughout the website, but not in the most high-profile portion of the event itself: its name.
I think it’s great that people from all faiths (or none at all) are being encouraged to feel welcome at the “egg hunt.” But if all of the promotional materials and the website are going to be “unashamed” about using the word Easter, why ditch it from the title?
Or, to look at it from another angle, if having Easter in the title is so offensive that non-Christians wouldn’t attend, why mention Easter at all on the website?
Where, exactly, does this spirit of “inclusiveness” begin and where does it end?
Is a non-believer interested in going to an egg hunt that’s promoted as an Easter-themed event in marketing materials and the website really going to stop in his tracks if he sees Easter in the name of the event?
I doubt it. I think there’s every chance the person has made that decision before they arrive.
And for those who wander upon such an event, I’d think the appearance of it, as well as the enthusiasm among its participants, would have a much bigger impact on whether someone would stick around.
You’re either interested in it or you’re not. Anyone who’d go to an “egg hunt” around Easter likely knows, I would argue, of the religious context. But even if they don’t, and they choose to take part, what, exactly is the harm?
Everyone should feel welcome at a Christian-themed event. But we should at least be honest about those Christian themes when they’re there.