The simple Easter basket of old may have contained real eggs colored by boiling them with early spring flowers. No one is sure where the colored egg tradition came from, but the focus on new life is clear. Both bunnies and eggs symbolize fertility.
The religious celebration melded with the spring fertility celebration at some point, bringing together commercial chocolate bunnies, Jewish Matzoh and Lenten fasting.
Aisles at , and local grocers show how far Easter has come in the commercial world. Now a major gift-giving holiday that rivals Christmas, are filled with more than a chocolate bunny, gum drops and speckled egg-looking Whoppers. Now you can find nearly every candy morphed into some sort of Easter treat by its shape or packaging, like Butterfinger eggs.
The Easter basket has become more like the Christmas stocking at our house. Instead of baskets jam-packed with various forms of sugar, I've increasingly replaced those "treats" with non-edible treats like toys, books and art supplies. I've even added in practical things like socks and underwear, but only really nice ones of course! The only staple is the chocolate bunny -- the rest is open for some creative basket filling limited only by the size of your basket and special favorites (Peeps for one kid, Butterfinger eggs for another).
In sharp contrast to the plethora of sugary treats is Lenten fasting. Some families celebrate Lent by having each family member choose an item to give up, something significant to them. People often choose to forego a favorite food like chocolate, sweets, carbs, or wine, but some use Lent as an opportunity to give up a bad habit like smoking or build in a good habit like exercise. The change in habit, or giving up of something, helps one focus on the religious significance of the season.
Perhaps we should find something more significant to put in those Easter baskets, something that reminds us what's most important.
Good Luck filling your Easter baskets this year!