I have often wondered why, in the great scheme of things, Easter has seemed to play second fiddle to Christmas.
I mean, there's Chrismas... with its 'peace on Earth, goodwill towards men' message, and the celebration of the birth of Christ. Definitely a worthy event. If He had not been born, the rest would never have happened.
But, it has always occurred to me that the event that cemented Christianity was the Resurrection. Had there not been a Resurrection, then Christ might have been dismissed as just another prophet. The Resurrection was where the rubber meets the road to Christianity, so to speak.
When it comes to Santa and the Easter Bunny secularizing these two events, I really don't get too caught up in the throat about it. These two characters played a role in my upbringing, but not to the exclusion of what Christmas and Easter were all about. As a child, I went to the Basilica with my Dad on Good Friday, went to Confession and did the Stations of the Cross. It's a tradition I wish, as an adult, I still had time to do. On Christmas Eve, when Dad was a Knight of Columbus ushering at the Basilica's Midnight Mass, I'd sit up in the front pew, good as gold, while he and others evicted the drunks out of the confessionals in the back. To this day, Midnight Mass is, to me, what Christmas is all about. The presents are nice, of course, and the turkey is yummy, but Midnight Mass, especially at the Basilica, is Christmas.
On Easter Saturday night, we went to the Easter Vigil at Mary Queen of Peace. The church was in darkness at first, very solemn during the many readings, and then the church lights blaze, the music begins and the flowers and decorations on the altar are all put in place by a number of parishoners, to celebrate the Resurrection. It is spectacular, and one really feels that this was, and still is, a wondrous thing that happened so very long ago.
Santa gives us presents. The Easter Bunny gives us eggs. Jesus gave His life so that we may have everlasting life. Jesus wins.