With the upcoming Easter holiday, I always start to wonder where all these traditions and symbols come from. How do a bunny and eggs come together? Have people always bought candy and small gifts for each other? To answer these questions, I did some digging. I thought you would all enjoy the answer!
Easter has morphed over the years to blend both Christian beliefs, pagan traditions, and a lot of fun and excitement for kids and parents. The first thing I’ve always wondered is….why a bunny? And why a bunny that brings eggs?
The Easter Bunny probably originated with German immigrants in Pennsylvania, they transported a tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” The children would build nests for the hare to come and lay his colored eggs into. Those nests eventually morphed into baskets, and the bunny became the deliverer (not the layer) of those eggs.
Those colored eggs that the bunny brings have been a pagan symbol of new life. Considering that Easter, as a Christian holiday, is the celebration of Christ rising for the dead, it makes sense that the eggs have hung along for so long. The idea of coloring the eggs to represent the colors of springtime was probably done in the 1700s and has continued to today. You’ve gotta admit, it is a fun tradition for kids to participate in.
But what about all that candy? Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in America. Halloween, of course, being the first. The earliest Easter candy was chocolate eggs (continuing with the pagan symbolism with the eggs) which dates back to the 19th Century in Europe. Jelly beans, which used to be more “egg-shaped” than they are today, also come out of this tradition. The newest candy favorite, Peeps, used to take a day to make a single chick. They were handmade and sculpted individually. Today they come in many different varieties and flavors.
And, finally, theEaster Parade. This idea originated in New York City. In the mid-1800s. The “elite” of New York Society would attend Easter service at one of the many Fifth Avenue churches. At the end of the service they would all “parade” out onto the streets showing off their new spring clothes and their special made “Easter bonnets.” After the winter and being closed up inside, Easter was a celebration of spring and of being able to get outdoors as much as it was a religious holiday. After a few years, the “lower” classes in New York City began to line the streets to watch the “Easter Parade.” A movie starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland called “Easter Parade” gave us one of our favorite Easter tunes.”In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it…” You know the rest!
Hope you learned something about a holiday that blends a Christian celebration, pagan traditions, and the excitement of the coming of springtime. Have a Happy Easter everybody!