On Friday, themed Easter baskets await purchase on a shelf in Rite Aid on Chestnut Street in Oneonta.

Despite the prevalence of chocolate bunnies and jelly bean sales in stores at this time of year, the religious importance of Easter is still central to most of those who discussed the holiday this week.

Unlike Christmas, most people respect the religious significance of the holiday, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, said the Rev. David Steensma, pastor with the Wells Bridge Baptist Church.

This provides "hope for a new life for ourselves and the resurrection of our bodies someday," he said.

He said he gave Easter baskets to his children when they were young, but that never detracted from the meaning of the holiday.

"While it is a day set aside for worship, it is a day of fun for kids," he said.

A shopper at Wal-Mart on Thursday agreed with this. Alicia Keator, 28, of Middlefield, was shopping for Easter baskets with her children Kristopher, 7, and Brittany, 5.

That is part of the celebration, she said, but the religious aspect is more important then the commercialism.

"The kids don't understand that yet," she said, but it's something they will learn when they get older.

She said she is not that religious, but she attends services at a Presbyterian church in her community.

On Easter, the children will wake up to find their baskets and spend time with their family, she said. Kristopher said he likes finding eggs and going to Grandma's.

Jan Miller, 57, of Downsville, said that Easter and all holidays become more commercial every year. She was born and raised as a Catholic but is not currently practicing.

However, she said, "there is still a religious significance to the holiday" that she enjoys celebrating with her niece and nephew.

"We have a far more secular society," said the Rev. Thomas Clemow of the First United Methodist Church of Oneonta. "All of our holidays have lost some of their religious power."

But for those who are firmly rooted in their faith, Easter remains the most significant of all the days in the church year, he said.

"If their faith remains strong, the commercial interests will not weaken that," he said.

Objects that are traditionally associated with the holiday, such as bunnies or eggs, speak of life and rebirth, Clemow said.

"We all look for hope in the midst of our dark days," said Rev. Earl W. Roberts III, interim pastor at Methodist churches in Unadilla and Sidney Center.

With the central message of Easter being the triumph of life over death, he said, "it has retained its spiritual significance."

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