An odd Easter tradition

Published 8:16 pm Saturday, March 26, 2016

My family’s Easter traditions were unusual to say the least. The oddity of digging holes in the backyard so the Easter bunny could leave chocolate eggs and treats became obvious as I grew older.

But for a 6-year-old, there was nothing more magical than digging the small hole, decorating it with fresh, spring grass and flowers and coming back the next morning to find it full of candy and eggs. Why my parents continued this odd family tradition is still a mystery.

When I’ve asked, my mother said something about German traditions (we are not German) and the hole representing Christ’s tomb (this is somewhat plausible). Apparently, her grandmother did something similar and the tradition continued. It seemed like a stretch 30 years ago, and even more so today.

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But what fun it was.

Some of my favorite childhood memories of any holiday revolve around those Easter holes. I don’t know what we called them then, but Easter holes seems like a good fit. We’d trek to the backyard on Saturday evening with our shovels, just as the sun was setting and grass was cooling. We’d line the holes with soft grass, decorate with plenty of flowers and wait.

Early the next morning before our parents stuffed us into our Sunday best, my sister and I would run to the backyard to find the holes overflowing with treats. Imagine our fascination with the idea that a magical rabbit stopped by that night and left us candy in our holes.

As I grew older I realized that none of my friends had such a tradition. The Easter Bunny simply left their treats inside the house. That seemed awfully boring, but a bit more practical — the dogs occasionally found the treats before we did.

As we outgrew the Bunny, the Easter hole tradition all but died. A few years ago I was reminded of those holes while looking through a family photo album. I decided to introduce my children to the spectacle that is an Easter hole.

They were confused and their interest quickly faded.  “Why do I have to dig a hole in the backyard?” they asked. “Who is going to put candy in it?”

We dug and decorated the holes anyway and filled them with treats the next morning. But it didn’t hold the same magic for them as it had for me.

And looking back, I’m glad. As a child, Resurrection Sunday was all about the Easter Bunny and candy. Church was necessary, as were the obligatory photos in front of the azaleas and the feast that followed, but it never seemed to be the main focus of the day.

My wife and I decided early on there would be no bunny on Easter. Call us kill-joys if you will, but a day that commemorates the resurrection of Christ certainly doesn’t need a magical bunny to make it special.

What could be more magical than Christ’s victory over death? Certainly not a bunny. Or the candy that he brings. Or Easter holes.

Though part of me wishes my children knew the joy of an Easter hole, I’m more excited that they know the joy of Easter.

Luke Horton is the publisher of The Daily Leader.