Sunday, April 27, 2014

An Easter Education

"Is Easter the Easter bunny's birthday?" went the innocent question from my daughter Kris last year. Even as I laughed and pulled her in for a cuddle, I began wondering how I would tackle this. I grew up in a country where Easter was not a national celebration; it was significant only to the Christian community and we all knew that the central figure in the Easter story is Jesus (the bunny was way low-profile back then). Kris is growing up in an environment where all the major Christian festivals may be national holidays, but where Jesus is far removed from the mainstream celebrations and associated imagery. Santa becomes the star at Christmas, and Easter is the bunny's time in the limelight.

So it's quite understandable that Kris thought Easter revolved around the bunny. Of course I wanted to set her straight, but how do you explain death and resurrection to a three-year old and not leave her scared, or scarred? At the time, I simply told her that Easter was about Jesus, who was 'taken away' by the 'bad people', but that He managed to come back and save everybody, and that is why we celebrate Easter.

Placing marzipan crosses on the Hot Cross Bun Cookies
Kris putting the marzipan crosses on Hot Cross Bun Cookies

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against Santa or the bunny. I think they add a fun element to these celebrations and I happily share Kris's excitement in the Easter egg hunts and hat parades. We enjoy making Easter bonnets and bunny masks and as you can see here, we've been busy baking to share treats with our friends. But at the same time, I feel it's essential to remember what's really at the heart of this celebration, and more importantly, to take the time to help my child understand that too.

Easter sugar cookies and gift basket
Easter sugar cookies. Left: bunny-scape. Top right: Easter egg cookies. Bottom right: Easter gift basket.

Kris is now a year older, and wiser (sort of :D). Because of tv and her peers, she now has words like 'dead' and 'kill' in her vocabulary, which gave me room to be more specific about the Easter story this year. We've been going through her kiddy Bibles, reading the stories from them, and this has led to some memorable conversations. I will always cherish the priceless expressions that race across her face as she tries to absorb it all.

Our talks have also had another unexpected effect: in teaching Kris, I am learning afresh too. In searching for words to explain our faith in its simplest terms, I found myself reconnecting with it more profoundly than I ever have before. And it feels like I'm discovering the beauty of it all over again, which when you think about it, is exactly what this period should achieve.

Easter Sunday then dawned and we had a quiet morning at home. I was feeling rested and renewed. We video-chatted with my family and when my mother asked Kris why we were celebrating, she said it was because Jesus died and came back to save us.  I lit up with her answer .... and then deflated a moment later when she said, "but the bunny is the bigger part about Easter." {sigh}.

It's going to take quite a few Easters before she really gets it. I know it's a slow and lifelong process. Her questions haven't abated in the week since, and I'm encouraged that she wants to keep reading from her Bible, instead of me making her do it. Of all the things we do together, I especially treasure the time we've spent discussing Jesus over the past few weeks. I only hope I'm able to sustain her interest, and help her budding faith flourish. 
Piped royal icing filigree cross cake topper
An incredibly fragile royal icing filigree cross atop a simple vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting & toasted almonds.


  1. Easter comes every year and with it comes RENEWAL for everyone, if one is mindful about Life and it's purpose. Only children have such innocence to tell the truth and it is for the parents to make the time and put in the effort to guide the children to the real truth and that definitely is not the ' bunny and the imagery'

    Good work. Seek inspiration and inspire others with the work of your hands and your thoughts. They are Gifts from the Almighty, for our good and the good of all.

  2. so beautiful...thanks for telling me about Easter..I always wondered whether you say..happy easter or not you?

    1. Thanks Renu, sorry for the delay in replying. Yes, you do wish Happy Easter on Easter Sunday :)