Tuesday, March 16, 2010

mama, what is easter?

image from country living

I’ve been thinking a lot about Easter. Specifically, how to celebrate it authentically in a spiritual but non-Christian home. What traditions to keep, what traditions to scratch, what traditions to create. It’s a funny thing raising your children with no religious affiliation but keeping the Christian-Judeo traditions you grew up with. Lucky for me, a lot of religious traditions were heavily influenced by the Pagans, whose beliefs and traditions I feel more comfortable passing on.

Here are a few of the thoughts I’ve been scribbling down on the subject in the hopes that we can create our own family easter traditions

- No over-commercialization of the holiday- cheap chocolate, excess wrapping paper and plastic toys that are thrown in the trash all too quickly

- Special day for the children on which they can enjoy a few surprises and treats (eg. one chocolate bunny, a couple small wooden toys and an item of handmade clothing to mark the change of season)

- The word Easter comes from the Goddess Ēostre, who loosely symbolized fertility and the coming of Spring. The rabbit is an animal that represents fertility, as does the egg.

*On this note, in Australia, this is the time of year to mark the coming of Autumn, so it’d be nice if this became a seasonal celebration marking the quietening and cooling of Mother Nature.

- Spend some time on the long weekend setting up our seasonal table, putting out fall themed things like fallen gumnuts, gourds, leaves, pinecones, coloured silks etc. The children can become more and more responsible for collecting and creating this as time goes on.

- Keep the bunny and chickens in the picture, but also include some native Australian wildlife- perhaps talk about how they all leave little gifts behind for children to play with and enjoy before the winter comes. But, also make it a reciprocal thing- the animals give gifts in exchange for gifts from the children- perhaps the promise of leaving some food and water out in the cold months (ex/ homemade bird feeders) and the promise to be kind and never hurt them.

- Create a respectful awareness of what others celebrate on Easter- the death and resurrection of Jesus, but I want to make it clear that this is what others believe and that they can believe whatever holds true in their hearts (clearly not a concept I have to worry about just yet as I have a 1 1/2 year old and another in-utero)

- Above all emphasize values such as family connection, honesty, respect and appreciation for Mother Nature, understanding of seasonal changes and respect and love for animals of all kinds

Now I just have to figure out Christmas...



Tammy James said...

Good to hear your thoughts on this Meagan. Its something I think about but never really know where to go with it. We don't do overly commercial stuff and do have a small chocolate egg hunt at home. I'm in the early stages of thinking about how to make it something seasonal related ... so reading your thoughts was really helpful.

Jo's Place said...

Great post, I've been wondering about this too. My daughter turns two on Easter Sunday this year so we will be having a wee celebration for her.

I love the idea of making an item of clothing for the change of season, will try and do this.

I'm making cupcakes for her birthday, so might make a wee bunny one for easter.

In future I think we will have an egg hunt, but certainly won't be going too overboard. Last year I went shopping just before Easter and was disgusted at the amount and size of the eggs people were buying. Waaayyyyyyyyy over the top.

Hmmm, now you got me thinking :)

Mrs B said...

Little B is 3 and we only started celebrating Easter with him last year. He knows the Easter Bunny brings him a book and his hand knitted winter beanie. He also gets one small chocolate egg (that I make due to his allergies).

He loves easter and its because of the book and the hat :-) Family members give him one matchbox car or small wooden toy - no chocolate allowed.

We also ensure Easter is all about spending time as a family - close and extended.

Jelly Wares said...

We are definitely on the same page with this topic Meagan!!!

I like to give my girls a newly made item of clothing to mark the season change each Easter.

We also plant grass seed in a saucer in the lead up to Easter and then on Easter day collect naturally died (by my oldest, now 3 1/2) eggs hidden about the house and garden, we place them on the saucer of grass. The growing of the grass represents the start of our wheat growing season here on the farm, the start of an exciting and fertile time of year for us...

I have a great free standing wooden puzzle of a hen with her chicks that takes pride of place on Connie's 'Easter Table' and then we collect what other goodies takes our fancy in the lead up to Easter, like you said to mark/represent the change in the Season...

This year I'm going to try and get Connie interested in growing her own Winter veggie's, one;s that she can plant on the Easter weekend and do so every year with Millie from now on....

Thanks for sharing this post Meagan, can't wait to read what you have in store for Xmas..

Jodie :)

Lauren said...

We approach easter in a similar way. We discuss Eostre and Mother Nature in much the same way. Its a great opportunity to discuss death and new life and Easter here becomes a celebration of hope for new life and growth after the winter and that period of dormancy. We plant bulbs and talk lots about native animals and what they are up to. We have an autumn celebration as well and celebrate spring when spring happens, so hopefully the message isn't too confused!!

dixiebelle said...

We have always limited chocolate eggs/ other & bought good quality, and this year, it will be Chocolatier Fair Trade eggs. Plus, I said they could have a wooden toy, which I might get a 'cooking set' from a local store for both of them.

I know alot of people give their kids fluffy PJ's or slippers at Easter too, instead of large amounts of poor quality, overpriced chocolate!

To us, this isn't to celebrate the religious aspect of Easter, nor just to make them not feel left out. More of a way of showing them that you can be involved in mainstream rituals/ commercialisms, without getting sucked in by them, or affecting other people for it. I don't want my kids to grow up, feel resentful for having 'missed' out, then 'make up for it' by giving their kids (or themselves) excesses of everything we tried to avoid... does that make sense?

ecoMILF said...

Thanks everyone for your comments and insight about how you make this tradition your own. I love the wooden toy ideas and handmade clothing and definitely want to get into dying eggs as they are so beautiful and special in their own way.

@dixiebelle I understand your wanting to keep them feeling included so they don't go over board to overcompensate with their own children. I am the result of that cycle (my parents had little growing up and when they had us and were able to give give give we got loads of chocolate and treats and presents at every holiday) and I feel I was not as appreciative as I should have been and am still trying to teach myself that "a little" a can be "a lot".

Love and light to everyone, xo m.

dixiebelle said...

Totally forgot to say, the Australian Bilby is a good 'native' animal instead of easter bunnies! If you (and I don't mean specifically YOU, M!!) are going to buy non-FT chocolate, then at least you can justify purchasing these, as they help support the endangered Bilby!!

Gina said...

Great post Meagan. I really appreciate the way you are thoughtful and analytical about how your family will approach this celebration.

You may find this funny but for many of us who DO celebrate Easter as Christians, the same questions are still relevant. Very little of the way that Easter is celebrated in our culture has anything to do with the Christian's commemoration of Jesus' death and resurrection. Much of it is pure commercialization and it's great if we all rethink this aspect, whatever our own beliefs and traditions.

As you pointed out, there has been for centuries a merging of the Christian celebration of the hope of new life (resurrection) with Pagan traditions celebrating the change of season, Spring in the northern hemisphere, so new life is a common them. I think this is why the egg has held strong as a symbol in our culture of mixed traditions.

The main way my family will celebrate Easter together will be by getting together with those who also hold our beliefs, and retelling the story of Jesus' death and resurrection. We'll enjoy some hot cross buns and a few (fairtrade) eggs, because it's great to celebrate our beliefs with treats, and they symbolize new life, and many people have also been fasting in the lead up to Easter so it's great to break the fast as well with something lovely. No Easter bunnies or other stuff for us though (I don't view this as harmful, just irrelevant!)

I say, teach what YOU believe is true and teach it strongly and without apology to your children. That's what we're doing with our beliefs about Jesus... they will accept or reject it as they become their own being more and more, but either way they will be clear about what Justin and I hold true.

Fiona said...

Meagan - I just found your blog and have really enjoyed reading through some of your (prolific!) and thoughtful posts. Thanks for your thoughts on Easter...we struggle with this one a bit, but relatively still foist chocolate, shiny paper, plastic toys etc on the kids...Interesting how in Aust. we really need to ReThink the seasonal connections of celebrations. Halloween (although not really an "australian" celebration at all) is my pet gripe. Marking the cyclical dying phase of the earth in spring just doesn't make any sense!

MonkeyMama said...

never gave thought to how the holidays and seasons correspond/clash on the other side of the globe, funny! Here in the U.S. Easter is so very much about spring, and Halloween about Fall and Harvest. Thanks for sharing!

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