Mixed Signals: Sanctify Your Easter Bunny Basket with a Chocolate Cross

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.

When I was a kid, my family celebrated Easter by going to church and sharing a basket of candy treats. Neither of these events happened regularly as I grew up, so I equated special days with both church-going and candy-eating.

As an adult, church-going is now a regular thing. (Admittedly, candy-eating is more frequent these days too.) And I also find that Easter is now more commonly referred in-house as Resurrection Sunday.

The name change is helpful, because Easter is another one of those observances that is part religious, part secular. It’s hard to separate the two and figure out how to exalt what Christ did for us in His death and resurrection while downplaying or even disregarding the Easter Bunny who delivers gifts and sweets.

I believe this distinction is much more difficult for parents — although no less important for adults — who are establishing traditions and trying to communicate the reality of Jesus to their kids. Kids are often aware of the non-religious aspects through friends, media, and stores, and they want to be part of the Easter Bunny fun.

Well, thanks to marketing genius, Christians no longer have to miss out on the Easter candy frenzy that totals more than $2 billion dollars of spending a year. We can now sanctify our Easter Baskets — Christianize them, really — with a little something called a chocolate cross. That’s right — instead of feeling guilty for buying the pagan chocolate bunny, you can feel righteous for buying the spiritual chocolate cross. And voila! Your secular Easter Bunny Basket is redeemed.

I am, of course, being facetious. I have dear friends who love Jesus and buy chocolate crosses for their kids every year, and they certainly do not believe chocolate crosses are holier than chocolate bunnies. They merely want to remind their kids what the day is truly about.

But my question is this: Do we need to buy chocolate crosses to get that point across?

We don’t. But marketers often send the message that something is missing in our lives and they have just the fix. So when Christians join in the Easter Bunny kitsch, marketers play on our lack with messaging and products that fill the void… and they give us Christianized Easter kitsch.

Marketers tell us we can have a Christian version of the secular Easter by replacing the chocolate bunny with the chocolate cross. But remember, these are the same marketers whose goal is to grow the $2-billion-a-year Easter candy business. Christianized Easter kitsch is not produced so that we might have a more meaningful Resurrection Sunday.

Messages like these will always tell us we need stuff to enhance our lives. On this day especially, though, we can rest in the truth of the cross, by which “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:3–4, ESV).

May you have a truly special (and kitsch-free) Resurrection Sunday!

About Erin Straza

Erin Straza (Associate Editor) is a freelance writer, editor, and marketing communications consultant, helping organizations tell their stories in authentic and compelling ways. After a stint in corporate marketing while earning her MBA, Erin taught marketing communications at Illinois Wesleyan and Illinois State. She is crafting her first book, writing from the Illinois flatlands where she lives with her husband, Mike. Find more from Erin at her blog Filling My Patch of Sky and on Twitter @ErinStraza.
E-mail: erin [at] FillingMyPatchOfSky [dot] com
Blog: Filling My Patch of Sky
Twitter: @ErinStraza

  • Ben

    Ha, this is humorous. Easter is a Christian holiday that has been secularized and we are taking it back by selling cross candy. Sure.

    I liken it to walking in the local Bible bookstore that is now closed and many brick and mortar stores have. I look around, they have a nice selection of Bibles, some other books, etc.. but 90% of the store was “trinket” materials. Whether bookmarks with a verse on them, a wood plaque sporting a verse, or a poster of Footprints. Granted, I have nothing against those things, but really when we think our faith can be lived out simply by buying Christian memorabilia it saddens me. I hope and pray that when somebody looks at me they don’t call me a Sunday Christian or worse, a Chocolate Cross Christian.

  • Steve S.

    I’m trying to figure out who would be religiously-aware enough to actually want a chocolate cross yet theologically-jaded enough to want to eat it. Is this supposed to be some weird, neo-Eucharistic imagery, or what?

    We always got Easter baskets growing up, and we went to church all the time anyway, so I guess for us it was just a little something extra to commemorate a holiday. Rather than secularizing the church holiday, I like to think that Easter baskets were sanctified by the holiday, much as Christmas presents might be sanctified by the Incarnation. In which case, including kitchy religious symbols in the baskets would have been redundant. That’s not to say it doesn’t work in the other direction. Loads of candy, gifts, or “stuff” can completely obscure the spiritual significance of a holiday. But with some care, the process can begin to work backwards.

  • Terri Lynn Sullivan

    What a great article! Funny, I found myself buying my son a chocolate cross for his basket this year rather than a bunny, without really thinking about it. But perhaps I was thinking about it more….as he is making his Holy Communion this year. What a humbled hare to think first of Christ and not put a replica of himself in there for once! Next year, might be back to the bunny though.


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