Learn the story behind Easter bonnets, bunnies, baskets and more!
Easter Sunday is coming up, which means it’s almost time to bust out the egg dyeing kits, start preparing your dinner menu, and assembling your family’s Easter baskets. Even though there is so much to do before the Easter Bunny arrives, carve out some extra time to read up on the history of Easter. The Christian holiday, celebrated on Sunday, April 4 this year, has been observed since the 2nd century as a way to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Over the years, many Easter traditions have taken shape, everything from chocolate bunnies to Easter egg hunts. Below are some of our favorite traditions excerpted from GoodHousekeeping – you can read the full article by following the link below.
Like many Easter traditions, the Easter Bunny evolved out of ancient fertility and spring celebrations. Rabbits breed like, well, rabbits, and give birth in the spring. So, in places where the fields became overrun with baby bunnies, it was natural to incorporate the rabbit as a symbol for spring and, eventually, Easter.
Every child knows that no Easter egg hunt is complete without candy. Exchanging chocolates and other sweets during Easter gained popularity in Europe during the mid-19th century, as companies developed methods for mass producing sweets and unveiled confections in fancy holiday shapes and packages, like Cadbury eggs.
Like the tradition of the Easter bunny, the tradition of the Easter basket likely began in Germany. Once children began to think the “Easter Hare” would leave goodies, they started creating small nests of leaves and branches in their gardens where the bunny could place them.
As early as the 14th century, the Catholic Church discovered drama and ritual as effective methods for teaching the gospel to those who couldn’t read, write, or speak the traditional Latin used in church. The Church developed practices, such as the Stations of the Cross and the Passion Play, to tell the story of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection in accessible and compelling ways.
We can thank Lent for our big Easter feasts. Originally, Lent required people to fast for 40 days (excluding Sundays), but these days it’s more commonly observed by having people give up an indulgence, like caffeine, chocolate, television, or social media.
The first egg hunt can be traced back to Martin Luther, a central figure during the Protestant Reformation — men hid the eggs for women and children to find. The happy act of finding an Easter egg during the hunt is supposed to remind us of the joy that the women (believed to be Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Salome) felt when they came to Jesus’s cave and found it empty
Those sugary-sweet marshmallow candies were created in the 1950s by Sam Born, who founded the Just Born candy company. He set up shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, making these treats especially appropriate for Easter. It initially took 27 hours to create a single Peep, but luckily Born’s son created a way to make the process more efficient — it now takes only six minutes!
Hot Cross Buns
These Easter-famous breads trace back to ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece, where they served as symbols of honor toward their goddesses, according to the Oxford Companion to Food. Later, these sweet breads became popular at Easter, especially in England where bakers were forbidden to sell spice breads except on special holidays, like the Friday before Easter.
White House Egg Roll
The tradition of the White House Easter Egg roll dates back to 1878, when President Rutherford B. Hayes opened the White House lawn for the tradition after being approached by children on one of his daily walks. Previously, children had celebrated Easter by playing games on Capitol Hill, but Ulysses S. Grant signed a bill banning the practice.