While I’m a spiritual person, I’m definitely not a religious one. I certainly don’t have anything against religion – in fact I like to pull the teachings of all religions and belief systems into my spiritual smorgasbord – but I don’t ascribe to one school of thought or faith.
… which makes many major holidays like Easter a bit of a conundrum in our home. While many would argue that the Easter celebration is actually secular (nay, Pagan!) in origin, the majority of celebrations here in the US are based on Christian teachings about the resurrection of Jesus. And while my family doesn’t believe in the literal resurrection of Christ, we don’t want to deprive our child of a fun, and absolutely meaningful holiday. At the same time, we don’t want to simply celebrate the commercial aspects of Easter with baskets full of toys and candy.
Since Easter intersects with the spring equinox, we will use this weekend to celebrate our emergence from winter and the resurrection of life that comes with spring. We will teach our children about nature, while also discussing the symbols and traditions of many different cultures and religions (including Jesus, Passover and many more).
Some of the activities for celebrating Easter without religion that we have lined up include:
We will dye eggs to symbolize the brilliance of taking something so simple and plain (like winter, lacking in color and light), and submerging it until it reveals itself anew: bright and colorful just like spring.
This is squarely a pagan tradition leftover from the spring festival of Eostre, a goddess whose symbol was a hare. Easter is celebrating spring and all the new life that comes with it. Additionally, the image of the rabbit emerging from his underground home is a wonderful parallel to the belief of Jesus coming out of his tomb. In our home, the Easter bunny will be helping our children to appreciate new life and spring by bringing them baskets filled with things like seeds, flower pots and yes — even some chocolate eggs.
What better way to teach our children about new life then through planting seeds? We’ve put a plain flower pot and some new paint in our son’s Easter basket, so he can decorate a pot then plant some flowers. In addition to being an obvious symbol of spring, the planting of seeds also stems from an old Irish Good Friday tradition of planting crops around the home as a blessing — and in this very Irish home, that’s a win win!
Nature walk and egg hunt
To truly appreciate all that spring is bringing, we’ll spend as much time outdoors as possible (assuming it isn’t raining!). We’ll hide Easter eggs throughout our backyard, nestled next to the young wildflowers, underneath the tree that is just starting to sprout leaves, and on top of the grass that is coming in thick. After we’ve thoroughly explored every corner of the yard hunting for eggs, we’ll head out for a nature walk to look for more signs of spring and life.
You simply can’t have a holiday withut copious amounts of homecooked food! Easter is a wonderful time to set a table full of spring’s bounty. Our menu this year will feature food items pulled from various religions and traditions (like lamb, borrowed from Passover traditions) and will be chock full of our favorite spring garden veggies.
For us, Easter is a day to enjoy and appreciate all that comes along with spring — the resurgence of life, the return of sunshine early in the mornings, the bright colors of sprouting plants. It’s also a time to draw parallels between different belief systems and learn about different cultures. As my children grow, we will undoubtedly adjust our celebrations and add new traditions to accommodate their inquiring minds and to nurture their creative souls.
As a mama trying her hardest to raise independent freethinkers, it is my hope these little traditions carve out an appreciation for life, a respect for other religions, and quite simply: some happy memories of mornings spent together as a family. And that is certainly something to celebrate. 🙂