Easter and Halloween are a lot alike when it comes to how churches deal with them where kids are concerned.
At Halloween, some churches host an evening designed to give parents and their children a safe place to spend time together, and give kids a place to dress up in costume, get candy and participate in activities related to the fall.
At Easter, some churches host a day designed to give parents and their children a safe place to spend time together, and give kids a place to hunt for colorful “hidden” plastic eggs, get candy and participate in activities related to the spring.
Neither activity has a great deal of connection to anything in scripture: try finding Halloween or an Easter Bunny in the gospels. Churches are happy to attach the name Easter to its Easter Egg Hunt, but many are too scared to attach the name Halloween its fall activities, even though everyone knows that’s clearly what it is.
Some of the religious hardliners out there shake their heads in disagreement when they hear of a church having an Easter Egg Hunt. Both of the churches with which I am currently associated, one on the east coast, the other on the west, hold an Easter Egg Hunt of some kind.
They are fun-filled, family friendly events.
But in neither case is there any attempt made to present an Easter Egg Hunt as a biblical story, nor does anyone suggest that rabbits lay colorful eggs that are filled with candy.
So why would a church hold an Easter Egg Hunt? More importantly, what’s to be gained by doing so?
I think the reason a church can hold such an event is simple: the horror of the crucifixion is entirely too much for a child. Unlike those famous paintings we’ve seen of Christ on a cross, with little to no marks on him other than an occasional spot of blood on the forehead from His crown of thorns, the truth of the torture to which He was subjected is too much for even some adults. The celebration of Easter is his defeat of the ultimate enemy, death itself.
But for a small child, that’s a little too heavy to get into with great detail just yet.
A fun day spent looking for Easter Eggs and the candy inside is far more palatable. After all, it should be up to parents how soon and in how much detail their children experience the reality of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.
And this brings us to the question of what’s to be gained by an Easter Egg Hunt.
No, an Easter Egg Hunt is not Biblical. But then no one says it is. And that’s the whole point: it’s a teaching moment. Parents can have a talk to their children on the way home about Easter’s true meaning, or, at the very least, prepare them for the story they’ll hear in some detail the following morning.
“We had a lot of fun today, didn’t we?” a parent might ask his child. And then the conversation might take slight turn like this: “But do you know why Easter is really a time to celebrate?” Let the child describe what, if anything he or she knows about the real meaning of the holiday. The parent can then explain that the Bible tells us that Christ died but then rose again and was able to save us from our sins and give us eternal life. That’s really something to be happy about, isn’t it?”
That’s really all it has to take. It’s about just opening the door for a child to be open to learning about faith and what it’s all about. It’s a way to get a conversation started.
Anyone who dismisses Easter Egg Hunts as something churches shouldn’t do because egg-laying rabbits aren’t to be found in the Bible should consider that any door that opens a genuine conversation about what Easter’s really about is a good thing.
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.