The tradition of Easter baskets is sweet and enjoyable. The Easter egg and basket hunt is a time-honored tradition in which people of many faiths participate. Easter is celebrated secularly as more of a nod towards springtime, which is evidence by the bright colors. Christians obviously assign deeper meaning to the holiday. Nonetheless, the Easter basket and one’s religion can be tied together seamlessly.

While Easter eggs and baskets are often seen as secular or are even marked as having roots in paganism (it is particularly connected to worshipping gods of fertility), the egg itself holds deep meaning for many Christians because it represents new life and, in turn, eternal life through Jesus. The shell also represents the sealed tomb of Christ. Eggs during Easter are also tied to the Lent season. In earlier times, it was customary for the Lent fast to require abstaining from meat, eggs, and dairy (meat only is more common now for Roman Catholics and only on Fridays). Thus, Easter - the end of the Lenten fast - would easily incorporate a lot of eggs as a way to signify their incorporation back into one’s diet. Some theologians and historians also assert that people in various cultures used to bring their Easter feast to a priest for blessing. These feasts were carried in baskets, of course!

And while it is true that the coloring of Easter eggs pre-dates Christianity, very early Christians did indeed dye them to a rich red color to symbolize the blood of Christ at Crucifixion. Red Easter eggs are most common in Greek Orthodox churches, but their symbolism makes them a great choice no matter what your background. So, if you want to ensure your Easter basket is religious, one of the easiest things to do is dye at least some of the eggs red. After your child has a bit of fun with the basket and the hunt, you can discuss the red eggs and the real reason for the Easter season.

Ultimately, the history of eggs and Easter baskets certainly show their ties to Christianity, even if the exact origins are difficult to assign to a specific period or culture.

There are a few other ways to incorporate Jesus and religion into the Easter basket. This can best be done by including a few religious gifts. In other words, think outside the box and add something that isn’t candy or eggs or ornamental grass. Religious jewelry is one option; as a parent, I always appreciate a non-food, non-sugary inclusion on a day that is otherwise dominated by such items. If religious jewelry is not age appropriate or wouldn’t suit your child, kiddie rosaries or games are other great items to include in your Easter basket. Religious jewelry, rosaries or games appearing alongside candies and treats will make a real statement to your child - holiday fun is important, but the roots of the celebration should always play a part.

Happy Easter!