“Easter is the second most celebrated ‘Christian’ holiday of the year,” said Rev. Alex Hill Sr., pastor of New Mount Hermon Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit. “It centers around the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is interesting that the greater percentage of those who celebrate it really have no idea how it originated or what it really entails.”
In a 2012 study conducted by LifeWay Research, 93 percent of pastors ranked Easter as the highest attended Sunday. Christmas came in at 84 percent with Mother’s Day at 59 percent.
“People pack church out on Easter in result of tradition,” said Joseph Reaves, 27, junior political science major at Howard University.
Aneyshia Minter, 22, senior education major at Wayne State University in Detroit, agrees. “I believe people attend Easter service to keep their mothers and grandmothers happy,” Minter said.
Wallace Conners, 22, senior psychology major at Howard University, focuses on the religious importance of Easter and notes that God said it is important to spend time with other believers — not just on Easter.
People should read the Bible more often, Conners adds, referencing Hebrews 10:25. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”Mariah McGraw, a sophomore psychology major at Wayne State University, thinks of Easter Sunday as “a fashion show for those who don’t go to church often.”The reason, says A.J. Medley, operations manager at Warner Theatre, is that people purchase clothes “to look better than they already think they do. This serves no purpose if you ask me.”
People purchase new clothes to take advantage of Easter sales pegged to the start of spring, said Marvin D. Carr, a doctoral student studying industrial engineering at Morgan State University in Baltimore. The National Retail Federation estimated that the Easter tab would total $17.2 billion this year. “The average person celebrating Easter will spend approximately $145.13 on candy, decor, apparel and food,” the federation said in its annual Easter Spending Survey.
To counteract the temptation to spend, Linda James’ church in Muscle Shoals, Ala., started a simple tradition. “We wear jeans and our church T-shirts on Easter,” James said.
But at the end of the day, Conners says of the people who boost attendance on Easter, “at least they get some church.”