In part two of our look at the claims and arguments made by the anti-holiday crowd, we’ll see if partaking in festivities with the Easter Bunny and eggs mean we are worshipping pagan deities.
If there’s anything wrong with celebrating with chocolate eggs and rabbits it’s that it could draw our attention away from the real reason we celebrate the day: to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But is there any real spiritual harm in replacing real eggs with chocolate ones for your Sunday breakfast? Are we worshipping pagan deities if we go on an egg hunt or paint real eggs?
According to Deut. 12:30-32 Partaking in Celebrations With the Easter Bunny and Its Eggs Is Worshipping Pagan Deities
To make this argument the claimant needs to have a very broad view of worship that wouldn’t be taken seriously if applied anywhere else. In fact, it refutes the critic’s position in and of itself. For example, I can say that critics are worshipping a pagan deity when they sing “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!” because the Egyptians worshipped sheep and saw them as gods. What about when the Bible calls Jesus The Lion of Judah? Did you know the lion is an Egyptian war deity? If we call Jesus a lion we’re basically worshipping the Egyptian deity!
You can begin to see where this argument begins to break down. Once again, the world is the Lord’s and He has every right to take and use something that belongs to Him. Pagans have perverted various objects for their own use but they do not own them. It is always the meaning and purpose people place behind them that matters.
In regards to Easter eggs, can critics logically call playing with and eating them sinful when the only intention is to have fun? Additionally, if the Easter Bunny did originate from pagan deities can we really call what we do with it worship? If anything the deity would be angry and dishonoured that we took something sacred and turned it into something as trivial as chocolate. Critics may as well say we’re worshipping a pagan deity whenever we wear Nike shoes. In reality, such things would have been considered insults. It may even be argued that trivializing such things acts as worship to the true God because it would be a mockery of the deity they were associated with.
The bottom line is there is nothing about our modern Easter celebration that serves pagan deities (if they are even associated with one at all) as long as it doesn’t distract us from remembering what the holiday is really about.
But Where Did The Easter Bunny Originate?
The straightforward answer to this is that we don’t know for certain where they came from but we can offer some reasonable explanations.
What we do know is that we currently have no evidence the Easter Bunny originated from pagan deities or that it was used as a fertility symbol. Remember that we are talking about Easter Bunnies specifically, not bunnies in general, so even if critics found pagan deities using bunnies it doesn’t mean a thing unless they can provide evidence that ties it directly to the Easter tradition. And that would be pretty hard to do considering the earliest source we have that mentions the Easter Bunny is in 1572. This was documented by The Dictionary Of English Folklore by Jacqueline Simpson and Stephen Roud and was originally called the Easter Hare as opposed to a Bunny. Regardless of whether they look alike, they are entirely different animals. This lumps another weight on the anti-holiday crowd because they can’t rely on a bunny to find pagan origins if the bunny wasn’t the first animal to be associated with Easter.
The most likely reason for the tradition is that the time of year Easter falls on is when bunnies and hares would be the most active. During Lent, those in medieval Europe would fast on dairy and meat products (including eggs) for the forty days. When the time was over they would collect eggs and feast on them during the festivities. And because it was a festive time why not use them for fun activities as well such as painting or hiding them?
In the end, there is simply no evidence that either Easter bunnies or eggs are of pagan origin. Neither can I find any good reason to suggest that it is a sin to celebrate with them. I know my family would be rather upset if they couldn’t eat a bunch of chocolate (and that’s putting it lightly!). So don’t let the critics make you feel guilty. Go ahead, have fun, and remember the life and joy you’ve been given in Christ. Happy Easter!