History of Easter Traditions

April 16, 2019
Chocolate bunnies. Pastel dresses. Easter egg hunts.

Most of us know that Easter is a Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ—but there are a lot of things we do each year for the Easter that don’t seem to have anything to do with that at all! Do you ever wonder where these traditions come from? Read on to get the low down on the history of your favorite Easter traditions!

Dying Easter Eggs

Why do we hardboil and dye eggs every year for Easter? Well, there isn’t an official agreed-upon origin, but here are a few theories. Eggs were often symbolic for life and rebirth, which makes them a fitting choice for celebrating spring as well as Jesus’ resurrection. One theory for dying eggs is that early Christians in Mesopotamia dyed them red to mimic the blood that Christ shed during his crucifixion, and that the tradition stuck! Our second theory comes from King Edward I of England who ordered 450 eggs to be colored and decorated with gold-leaf. Those eggs were then presented as Easter gifts to the rest of the royal household.

Pastels

Different colors are representative of things for many different holidays! For Easter, rosy pink stands for joy and hope; green represents rebirth and eternal life; and white represents purity, grace and the resurrection

Easter Parade

Ever wonder why New York is home to its annual parade on Easter? This tradition dates back to the 1800s when the wealthiest New Yorkers would attend Easter services along Fifth Avenue, and then walk down the street after, showing off their outfits. Eventually other people began showing up to watch them. From there the official parade was born!

The Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny is arguably the most iconic Easter symbol, but no one actually knows where it came from! Historians think it might have gotten its start when German immigrants came to America in the 1700s. These German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania might have brought their tradition of an egg-laying rabbit called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” In German tradition, children would make nests for this creature to lay its colored eggs. But interestingly enough, rabbits aren’t the traditional Easter animal for every country. In Australia, they started celebrating with the Easter Bilby instead to raise awareness about the endangered creature. A bilby is a desert-dwelling marsupial with big, soft ears like a rabbit and a long nose like a mouse.

Easter Egg Hunts

The most widely-believed theory behind Easter eggs hunts goes back to Oschter Haws we mentioned earlier. This rabbit laid eggs in the grass, so children were encouraged to build nests for it to lay in. Then came the search for the eggs it would leave behind! Although the modern day Easter bunny doesn’t lay eggs, the tradition still stuck.

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