Easter and the traditional Easter Egg Hunt are the true mark that spring has arrived. Grass turns from winter’s brown to summer green, leaves begin bursting forth from the trees and daffodils and irises push up through the earth to reach out to the March winds and April Showers. And on a perfect day for a hunt, the sun bursts out with a gentle dusting of clouds brushing away the chill not quite gone from the breeze.
On such a day, the City of Smyrna brought back their beloved Easter Egg Hunt. It took a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic. But this year, the moment the barricade tape came down, hundreds of children ran onto the field at Lee Victory Park to collect candy and prize eggs. Officers from the Fire Department had spent much of the late morning scattering candy from giant boxes and hiding treasure eggs. They take great joy in putting the event together every year and pride in making it possible for the community. The event is sponsored by Smyrna Natural Gas.
“This is one of my favorite days of the year,” said Mayor Mary Esther Reed. “It gives Smyrna a hometown feel. Lots of organizations used to do what we do, but now there are few places that do this kind of hunt any more. I love seeing the smiles of the kids and their parents. The event takes days to plan and put together, but it may not take any more than ten minutes to complete, yet it is well worth the time.”
Children between the ages of one and 12 are allowed to participate in the event. Four fields are set up divided by age group. The hunt is free for all allowing the kids to run and express their natural exuberance. Something the pandemic muted. Those finding special eggs were able to turn them in for prize baskets.
It was a sea of pure joy as the children took off at a run and began collecting candy. Some came with special baskets, others used plastic bags to keep their finds safe. Many wore bunny ears and a few had painted faces. All of them wore smiles, or, later had looks of deep concentration as they enjoyed some of their candy.
“It’s really good to get the kids back out here after two years,” said City Councilman H. G. Cole.
Overseeing the event was the Easter Bunny, who was available for free photos with the children. He kept them entertained while they awaited the beginning of the hunt.
Easter Eggs and Egg Hunts have a long tradition. According to englishheritage.com, “In the medieval period eating eggs was forbidden during Lent, the 40-day period before Easter. On Easter Sunday, the fast ended with feasting and merriment, and eggs were considered an important part of these celebrations. This was especially true for poorer people who couldn’t afford meat. Eggs were also given to the church as Good Friday offerings, and villagers often gave eggs as gifts to the lord of the manor at Easter. Royals got involved with this tradition too – in 1290 Edward I purchased 450 eggs to be decorated with colours or gold leaf and then distributed to his household.”
The English Heritage website goes on to explain that the custom of the Easter Egg Hunt comes from late 16th century Germany. Protestant religious reformer Martin Luther organized egg hunts for his congregation. The men would hide the eggs for the women and children to find. This was a nod to the story of the resurrection, in which the empty tomb was discovered by women.
Rabbits were a symbol of spring and fertility during pagan times, but they were eventually tied to the Virgin Mary, and it became a custom that the rabbit, or hare in early times, would “bring a basket of brightly painted eggs for all the children who had been good, and these would be hidden around the house and garden for the children to find.”