Secular Easter

Raising secular kids in a predominantly religious society presents it’s fair share of problems. How to celebrate holidays not being the least of them. As an atheist family we certainly find plenty of cause for celebration through the turning of the seasons. And we don’t want our children to miss out on the joy and merriment that their friends participate in. But how to partake in the fun without the religion, and without focusing on the purely consumer aspects of the holiday?

Lucky for us, many Christian holidays were taken from pagan roots. And those pagans loved their earth. I can really get behind celebrating the turn of the season and all that the earth gives her children. In the summer we celebrate the sun shine and the many beautiful growing things. In the fall we celebrate the harvest. All the good foods that will sustain us through the cold winter. In the winter we celebrate the solstice, the time when the sun begins to return and the days start getting longer. And in the spring we celebrate new life. The trees waking up, the baby animals being born, time to plant, and to hope.

So with these ideas in mind, we participate in the holidays and try to steer clear of the rampant consumerism that tends to take over. For Easter I like to decorate eggs, although we didn’t get around to it this year. We do the Easter Bunny, but mostly as a fun game. I don’t go out of my way to make sure the kids believe, but I don’t dash their hopes as long as they choose to believe. The evidence that I’m the Easter Bunny is readily available to any child who wishes to think about it for a moment. This year I put together baskets with bunny ears, Easter egg sidewalk chalk, and a small chocolate bunny. I hid plastic eggs around the living room and the kids had a fun hunt. I’m letting them go kinda hog wild on the candy today, in hopes that it will just be gone and I won’t have to deal with it any more.

And we talk. We talk about why we celebrate spring. We talk about the importance of taking care of our earth. We talk about the meaning of family, and togetherness, and stewardship. And I think that is the most important part of any holiday. The time we spend together talking. The segue into some of these big issues that don’t come up in conversation on a daily basis. A chance to slow down and really focus on the things that are important to us.

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