We all know that the lamb represents the Lamb of God (Jesus), the cross His victory over death, and candles His being the Light of the World. From there we tend to scratch our heads over items that seem to be purely commercial. Actually, they are all rooted in Easter symbolism and tradition.
For example, in ancient times the rabbit (bunny) symbolized abundant new life, as do baby chicks. And the egg, an ancient symbol of spring, opens, thus releasing the chick, reminding us of Christ’s coming forth from the tomb. Other indicators of new life are the flowers and baby animals often pictured in Easter settings. Even the custom of wearing Easter hats and new clothes has a traditional basis—putting off the old life and donning the new life Jesus offers through His death and resurrection, much like the baptismal garment.
Then there are those seemingly oddball foods. Next time you eat a hot cross bun, think of the cross on top, and when eating a pretzel (an Easter food in some areas), consider the shape, which is like arms crossed in prayer.
The symbol closest to my own heart, though, is the butterfly, whose whole life represents the life Jesus. It begins as a caterpillar (Christ’s life on Earth), becomes a cocoon (His crucifixion and burial), then bursts out as a beautiful butterfly (just as Christ rose from death into glory).
The ancients had it right. On Easter, one would greet another with, “He is risen!” The other would look in awe at the world around him and answer, “He is risen, indeed!”
Have a blessed Easter season.