The date for Easter changes every year. I’ve often wondered why and how it is determined so researched and found the following information:

In 325 A.D., the Council of Nicaea, which agreed upon the basic principles of Christianity, established a formula for the date of Easter as the Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the full moon that falls on or after the spring equinox. In practice, that means that Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon that falls on or after March 21. Easter can occur as early as March 22 and as late as April 25, depending on when the paschal full moon occurs. So that explains why Easter is late this year and it’s really a good thing as it seems like winter wanted to stay with us a bit longer than usual. Of course, colored eggs would show up better and would look really pretty in the snow!

When I was a child, my dad would hide Easter eggs out around our place. I remember an orchard where he would hide the eggs in the tree branches. I never thought about the Easter bunny not being able to climb a tree. He also hid them in the grass around the house. When we would bring the egg we found into the house, he would disappear for a while and so would some of the eggs. Then we were told to go out and look for more of the colored eggs. And sure enough there would be more to gather.

I can’t remember getting any presents, just a small Easter basket with green paper grass and some candy. I also remember it as a fun day of running around trying to find more eggs than my brothers and sisters. Mother used to make new dresses for me and my sisters and new shirts for my brothers to wear to church on Easter Sunday. It seems like all the women wore hats back then, and you would see some real pretty ones appear on that special day.

When our children were little, we put a fuzzy toy baby chicken or bunny in their baskets with the candy eggs. We would spend the day before Easter dying the eggs and what a mess the kids liked to make! We never went to an organized Easter egg hunt but I did make my daughters new dresses and my sons new shirts. By the time Easter came, they usually needed those anyway. One year, Dad bought each of his granddaughters an Easter bonnet. That was the first and only time they had that special hat, but they were excited to wear them all summer long.

My husband, Boyd’s, family usually met with friends for a picnic on Easter. A few times the picnic was held at the ranch when his parents were hosts. This continued for quite a few years after Boyd and I married. Our children always looked forward to those picnics.

Easter can still be fun. It is often a family day with church attendance, then a big meal, fun for kids to hunt for Easter eggs, and a day to enjoy the first good spring days. Many communities have Easter egg hunts for the children to participate in on the Saturday before Easter. They usually use plastic eggs and sometimes have small toys or coupons for treats inside of those eggs. Some churches have special programs for Easter.

Easter now seems to be as commercial as Christmas has become. For weeks before Easter, people are flocking into stores buying toys and stuffed animals to fill huge Easter baskets. I don’t see any advertisements about the real meaning of Easter, I don’t hear spiritual songs being played in the mall. I just hear and see the buy, buy, buy song that means money, money, money to those singing it.

Some things to think about as this year’s Easter Sunday approaches:

n Have we forgotten or ignored the real meaning of Easter?

n Is it really hard to teach our children about the resurrection of Jesus? To tell them the stories of His life and what He taught us?

n Is it wrong to talk about His suffering on the cross for our sake?

It seems like more and more people are celebrating the Easter bunny, toys, and candy rather than appreciating the true meaning of Easter.

Maybe while we are dying eggs this year it would be a time to talk about Easter: what we are celebrating and what it means to us.

Jean Schwieder is a writer who has spent her life involved in eastern Idaho agriculture. Her books, including past columns, are available by calling 208-522-8098 or by email at straddlinthefence@gmail.com.

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