POP QUIZ: What Do You Tell Your Children About the Easter Bunny?

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, on which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

– 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

Stop and think about this. No, really!  Read it twice.  Think about it.

It sounds pretty important, doesn’t it?

I bring this up because a poll published by The Barna Group in March 2010 shows that when asked what Easter is about, only 37% of Catholics in the United States responded with “The Resurrection.”

Only 37%!!!

Excuse me, but what are the rest of you thinking?! This is the high holy day of the Christian year, a commemoration of the day on which all our fortunes were turned and we were brought back to friendship with God.  The gates of heaven were opened.  Death was conquered.  Jesus was victorious over sin.

In fairness, the number of self-identified Catholics who said they celebrate Easter as a religious holiday was higher (65%). I’m not sure whether that means:  Did those who said it was a religious holiday, but who couldn’t think of the Resurrection, just have some squiggly, pastel-colored, bunny-soft idea of religion?  Or did they simply respond to the interviewer’s question generically, even though they did understand the significance of the feast.

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The Barna Report had me thinking about how parents raise their children—specifically, what parents tell their kids about the Easter Bunny.

I remember, as a child, loving the Easter egg hunt. We loved painting the eggs on Holy Saturday.  On Easter Sunday, my sisters and I—after finding all the eggs and our baskets—would hide them again and again, all day and probably all week, for the sheer pleasure of once again peeking in cupboards and under tables to find the elusive eggs.

But there was an element of suspicion: I mean, if my parents lied to me about Santa Claus and about the Easter Bunny, couldn’t they also have lied to me about Jesus?  Eventually I came to understand the difference between faith and fantasy; but I do remember those childhood concerns, and I do see why some parents do not participate in society’s great fantasy about sneaky bunnies who love kids and give them lots and lots of chocolate.


How do you celebrate the Easter holiday in your family?

What do you tell your children about the Easter Bunny?

(Note:  There are no right or wrong answers in this quiz!)

  • Sue from Buffalo

    We really focus on the Resurrection with our kids; however…we also have the Easter Bunny. I don’t talk much about the Easter bunny. The kids like to enjoy the fantasy. Yes, I’m pretty sure that my 6 year old believes in the Easter bunny but there really isn’t a problem here. I was raised with the Easter bunny and yet I had no problems with trusting my parents. I was also raised in the Methodist Church (I’m a Catholic convert). My parents taught me about the Resurrection.

    As the kids get older, they realize that it’s all in fun. A fun-type of fantasy. Believe me. They know the difference.

    I also make it a point of including religious items in their Easter basket. That can include dvds, cds, books, cute little trinkets with religious themes. My college student has a crucifix in there to hang in her dorm. (And she will. She’s very devout). It all depends on the child and where they’re at in that particular time of life. My 17 year old son has a wall plaque about putting on the armor of God in his basket this year.

    What the kids will see is how you treat Easter and what you believe. That will impact them more than anything else. In my opinion.

    • Kathy Schiffer

      A good answer, Sue! Now I hope we’ll get some other reactions from some parents who choose a different path.

  • http://www.thetheologyoflaundry.blogspot.com Marissa Nichols

    Honestly, we don’t really say much about the Easter Bunny, not purposely, mind you. We’re just not a “Look at the basket the Easter Bunny brought you,” family. My kids (2 and 4) have already figured out that Peeps and cream filled eggs come from the store and they’re more concerned with devouring hollow chocolate Easter bunnies and than thinking about the actual icon.
    They’re too young to understand resurrection, but we emphasize that Jesus gave up everything so that we can go to heaven, which is God’s house. The four year old seems to grasp the idea. Jesus=loves me so much, did something good for me. Heaven= where we want to go because God’s house seems cool and, bonus, Jesus and Blessed Mother are there. There you go…resurrection a la toddler genius…I still think it’s easier to understand than why there’s a line to take pictures with a six foot tall guy in a bunny suit at the mall. But maybe that’s just me.

  • Tom

    Until they’re old enough to understand, suggest he’s in Heaven with Jesus


    • http://www.thetheologyoflaundry.blogspot.com Marissa Nichols

      “He” as in the Easter bunny?

  • http://facebook.com/threedayssearch Chris Stepien

    As a child, the eggs had a religious meaning in our household. We had no egg hunt, but we did have a traditional Polish brunch on Easter Sunday filled with religious symbolism. We colored the eggs and had our baskets with candy and eggs blessed. Mom had a basket filled with the foods: ham, kielbasa, bread, salt, water, horseradish, butter and, of course, eggs. On Sunday, the hard-boiled eggs were sliced. A plate was prepared with some of the sliced eggs. Each slice of egg had a dollop of horseradish placed on it. Then Dad would pass the plate to each one in the family and say, “Christ is risen!” We would respond, “Allelujah!” The horseradish represented the passion of Jesus. The egg, his resurrection and new life. There are obvious Passover connections to this tradition, with Poland having been home to so many Jews for centuries, because of the nation’s tradition of tolerance and liberty.

    We ate this meal before we touched any chocolate. So, Easter has always been a very important spiritual holiday that focused on the death, dying and resurrection of Jesus. The candy was just part of celebrating his triumph! :)

  • Marye

    Although finding out that the Easter Bunny isn’t real can make children doubt other things their parents have told them, such as the miracle of the Resurrection, the same is true of Santa Claus, or the Tooth Fairy, or any of the magical characters that children love. There are stages of growth that children must pass through in order to mature. Discovering that something that their parents have told them isn’t literally true, and having to grapple with that realization, is one of those stages. Maybe it’s discovering that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren’t real, maybe it’s realizing that a beloved pet didn’t actually go off to live on a farm somewhere far away. At that point, most children aren’t yet capable of having a mature understanding of the difference between faith and fantasy, but while they are wondering and puzzling over the things that they don’t understand, they gradually develop that capacity. So, as long as a parent isn’t telling a child that the Easter Bunny and Jesus Christ are the same being, I wouldn’t get too anxious about it.

  • Bender

    Let’s give our kids some credit here. In fact, they routinely prove themselves to be more sophisticated and understanding than grown-ups are. I defy anyone to find one person whose faith was undermined solely because of the Easter Bunny.

    Not only are kids sharp enough to notice that the eggs they receive are those that they themselves colored, they also are sharp enough to notice all of that Easter candy on the shelves at the grocery store. It doesn’t take long to figure out, and without any trauma, that the “Easter Bunny” is mom and dad. If there is any confusion that results, it is indicative of some far greater problems with teaching the faith to those kids.

    Meanwhile, the other day I saw an interesting thing – a group of young girls age 8-10 or thereabouts looking excitedly at a little stuffed bunny on sale at the store. And then they got excited about the egg coloring packages and the related items. They were interested in and excited about Easter stuff. And they were wearing headscarves, i.e. they were Muslim.

    Anything that gets non-Christians interested in Christian stuff, even that Christian stuff which has appropriated pagan activities for our own purposes, is a good thing.

  • Susan

    I told my children what my parents told me – that the Easter bunny is a symbol of spring (new) – the new things we have have in Christ. I was told that Santa is a sumbol – the giving; God’s goodness.