Since I can remember, I have spent the Easter holiday with my family on the farm north of Canton.
Initially, Grandma and Grandpa Vogts lived there. Now, Uncle Stacy and Aunt Brenda own it, but the tradition has remained regardless of who lives there.
A meal always takes place, and lots and lots of conversations are had. It is a Vogts function, after all.
But the main event is always the hunt.
That’s right. A hunt.
There is an egg and soda pop hunt for children through age 10 (give or take depending on who is in attendance), and this takes place in the front yard around the house.
That is fun to watch, but it still isn’t the main event . . . really.
The big show takes place after the youngsters have had their fun. That’s when all the older children, ranging from age 11 (again, depending upon who is all there) and up and including the adults, head outside for the great pop hunt.
Uncle Stacy hides the cans of pop all over the property, and everyone stampedes out in hopes of being the first person to get their allotted number of sodas.
Seriously, these cans of soda pop are everywhere. They might be in feed bunkers where the cows get their dinner or in old, discarded pickups engulfed by trees. I remember once finding a can of soda under a cow patty. Another year, there was one up in a tree. If you are lucky, you don’t need a shovel or a ladder to get your bounty.
Taking part in this family tradition is Easter to me. It’s not Easter unless I’m shoving a family member out of the way in order to get a can of soda pop before they can wrap their greedy paws around it.
And I don’t even drink soda pop anymore. It’s all about the hunt and then sharing what I find with everyone else. Unless it is strawberry soda. I have one relative who is particularly fond of that flavor, so if I find those, I have no choice but to keep them just to mess with him a bit.
I have so many memories of this Easter tradition. For example, one time, my cousin drove a three-wheeler through a barbwire fence, but not all the memories involved the injuries of my family. Most of the memories simply are about togetherness. I love being around my family and receiving the opportunity to joke and catch up with all of them.
I’m so grateful that my own children are able to experience this as well. As they get older, I know they will develop lifelong memories as well. I’m excited for them, even if all they recognize this year is the fun of the hunt.
It’s a special time. After all, we did reveal the gender of our first child at one of these Easter events.
Sure, things aren’t exactly the same as they used to be. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we started eating only one meal together, and it was enjoyed outside. As I understand it, that will be continuing this year, and that’s perfectly fine. It doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we are all doing it together.
One new tradition I might adopt for my children requires a bit of technology, though.
Just as we use the Google Santa Tracker each Christmas, I am going to track the Easter Bunny with my children. That’s right, you can track the Easter Bunny’s progress of delivering Easter baskets around the globe by pointing your Internet browser to trackeasterbunny.com.
Now, I don’t know that my wife and I will be getting my children Easter baskets, but a little gift in the form of candy or another treat might be in order. Building their anticipation with the Easter Bunny Tacker will make the morning of Easter just a bit more fun.
And remember, Easter relates to the spring, or vernal equinox, which is the time of year the length of the nights in the Northern Hemisphere equals the length of the days.
Within the Christian faith, Easter is then celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the spring equinox.
As History.com.uk explained, non-Christian faiths also celebrate this time of the year, such as the pagans celebrating their springtime goddess Eastre or Eostre who is believed to be associated with the hare.
That gives us insight into why we have an Easter Bunny, but what about the eggs?
Well, eggs were also part of the pagan celebration. That is because rabbits and hares, as well as eggs, are symbols of life and fertility.
So, according to History.com.uk, “As Christianity absorbed pagan spring traditions, the egg was also adapted to become the perfect representation of Jesus’ resurrection; the eggshell symbolizing the tomb, whilst the cracking of it representing Jesus’ emergence; life-conquering death.”
We also need to consider the Osterhase, which is German for Easter Bunny. According to “The Cute and the Cool: Wondrous Innocence and Modern American Children’s Culture” by Gary Cross, German Lutherans came up with the idea of an “Easter Hare” that carried colored eggs, candy, and toys in its basket and left the treats at the homes of good children the night before Easter.
Eventually, the symbols and ideas from the various faiths and societies melded together, resulting in the Easter Bunny we have today.
Regardless of how one views the holiday, though, it serves as an indicator of spring, which is a time of renewal and rebirth. Though many might use the start of the new calendar year to turn over a new leaf, spring is when the leaves actually become new again.
It’s another opportunity to start over and work on improving one’s life. It’s a powerful time of the year.
Besides the Easter Bunny and the fellowship with family and friends, there are parades, candies, flowers, and all sorts of other things to enjoy, such as warmer weather and being outside in nature’s beauty.
There’s a lot to look forward to this Easter. I can’t wait to celebrate.
But until Easter arrives, I will just eat my Whopper’s Brand Mini Robin Eggs and ponder how anyone can like Peeps. I like marshmallows just as much as anyone else, but those bird-and-bunny-shaped treats just aren’t right.
Todd Vogts is a native of Canton, a resident of McPherson County, and an assistant professor of media at Sterling College. He can be contacted with questions or comments via his website at www.toddvogts.com.