One of the biggest christian holidays of the year is coming up this weekend. Marked with times of prayer, worship, and feasting. No wait, chocolate bunnies, more eggs than anyone could count…and an Easter bunny who laid them? I can see where this could be confusing to our young kids (and other cultures)! Have you ever been blindsided by the question that I have, “Mommy, what do Easter eggs have to do with Easter?”

After long lines to get your children’s picture taken with the Easter Bunny, you pick them out a heaping candy-filled basket to receive the morning of Easter. Then the biggest event is the egg hunt, hundreds of colorful plastic eggs filled with every candy imaginable marketed to resemble an easter theme of bunnies or chicks. With all the hype of retail, what kid would want to miss the magic of waking up to an overflowing easter basket on Sunday morning, brought by the Easter Bunny?

Yet, far away on a middle eastern hill, two thousand years ago, the Son of God hung on a cross until he died. An earthquake at the moment he died reminds us, he split time in two at his birth (BC to AD), and the curtain of the temple at his death. He forever broke the barrier between God and man by coming to live among us, as one of us, and be the sacrifice for our sins to restore us to right relationship with God. If that wasn’t remarkable, he then rose from the dead, defeating death itself, and after appearing to his disciples and many others, ascended to God’s right hand where he continues to reign now!

He forever broke the barrier between God and man by coming to live among us, as one of us, and be the sacrifice for our sins to restore us to right relationship with God.

We will have to look farther than our local drugstore and box chain store to see signs of the celebration of this central part of our faith, and as Christians we are no doubt counter-cultural. What of the life of Jesus, his death, burial and resurrection, is reflected in our time we give to the Easter Bunny? Should the Messiah have to share this observance of his victory with the Easter bunny in your household? 

While harmless as these traditions may be, I want to challenge you; is the distraction from the real reason we celebrate, worth it? Is Jesus enough?

Christ’s conquering the grave is an incredible feat that we can revel in with our children together. No magical bunnies needed. A child’s view of Easter is shaped by what we choose to highlight in our observance of it. Years ago I discovered a simple, but true fact: our young kids will get excited about what we get excited about. What we get excited about reveals and reflects our values. 

In addition to our church’s Easter services, we now look forward to a few traditions of our own. We ordered a set of Resurrection Eggs which consist of twelve plastic eggs; each holding a symbol that leads your family through the events of Holy Week. Don’t worry, there’s also a booklet included that tells the story of each day and its symbol. My kids have enjoyed this set for years, laying out the pieces such as a mini-size crown of thorns, praying hands, and the silver coins.  

Over the years we went from us (mom and dad) reading the story to them—to now they describe the story to us about Jesus’ journey to the cross. Beginning with his entrance to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, to the Passover dinner, to Judas’ betrayal, Jesus’ trial, death, burial, and finally his resurrection and conquering of death!

Another way we teach our younger children about Easter is through several picture books that tell and show the high points of the Easter story in imaginative ways. One example is from a donkey’s point of view of that week (The Donkey Who Carried A King, by R.C. Sproul). Another classic is the Tale of Three Trees (by Angela Elwell Hunt), in which one of the trees became the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Another favorite of ours is one that highlights the story through rocks shaping the pictures (He Is Risen: Rocks Tell The Story of Easter). Each book draws attention to the main character of Easter: our Redeemer—our Savior. 

If you have older kiddos and baking is your jam (no pun intended) look up a recipe called “Empty Tomb Rolls.” It’s a roll that you bake and have the kids put a marshmallow inside. Then after you bake it, open it up and the marshmallow is gone (hence, the “tomb” is empty)—and you get to enjoy a bread roll together that reminds you of Christ’s empty tomb.

Leading up to Resurrection Sunday, your family can gather around a few stories or special activities that center around the real meaning of Easter. In these young impressionable years, when we’re shaping our family cultures and laying the blueprints of how we worship together, crafting your holidays around the Creator himself, will never disappoint, and is more than magic enough.