You won’t find them mentioned in the Bible, but many beloved Easter traditions have been celebrated for centuries. The most prominent secular symbol of the Christian holiday is the Easter bunny. He was reportedly introduced to America by German immigrants who shared their stories of an egg-laying bunny with their new homeland.
The egg decorating is believed to date back to at least the 13th century, while the Easter parade has even older roots. Here are a few of the Easter traditions we have come to recognize along with the history behind them.
Editors note: You may want to print the free trivia sheet at the bottom of this post first and let your kids fill it out as you read through the post out loud, or use it as an online scavenger hunt for your older kids and let them spend an afternoon during Easter week researching the answers.
Here are a few of the Easter traditions we have come to recognize along with the history behind them.
The Bible makes doesn’t mention a long-eared, short-tailed animal who delivers eggs to children on Easter Sunday; yet, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of this holiday. The exact origins are not clear, but rabbits are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life.
Stories of the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who brought their Easter bunny traditions with them. Their children made nests for the bunny to lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across America and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries began to include chocolate, candy, and gifts. Decorated baskets soon replaced nests.
In New York City, the Easter Parade dates back to the mid-1800s, when the high society would attend services at various Fifth Avenue churches then go for a stroll afterward to show off their new spring outfits and hats. Average citizens started coming out along Fifth Avenue to watch. The tradition reached its peak by the mid-20th century, and even become a film in 1948, Easter Parade, starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland with the music of Irving Berlin.
The title song includes the lyrics:
In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it/You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.
Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in America, right after Halloween. The most popular treats include chocolate eggs, which date back to early 19th century Europe. Eggs have long been associated with Easter as a symbol of new life and Jesus’ resurrection. The jelly bean, another egg-shaped candy, was first associated with Easter in the 1930s.
According to the National Confectioners Association, over 16 billion jelly beans are made in America every year for Easter, enough to fill a giant egg measuring 89 feet high and 60 feet wide.
Another popular Easter treat has been the marshmallow Peep, made by Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based candy manufacturer Just Born (founded by Russian immigrant Sam Born in 1923). They began selling Peeps in the 1950s.
Check out this list of fun things to do with Peeps! or Click the image below to order them delivered to your door!
Easter is a religious holiday, but some of its customs, like Easter eggs, are most likely linked to pagan traditions. The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has long been associated with pagan celebrations of spring.
From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ rise from the tomb and His resurrection.
Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to the 13th century. One explanation for the custom is that eggs used to be a forbidden food during the Lenten season (the 40 days before the Resurrection celebration), so people would decorate them to mark the end of the penance and fasting period; then eat them on Easter as a celebration.
ParadisePraises has created a way to use colored eggs to tell the Gospel story to kids. Check it out here.
Easter egg hunts and rolls are popular traditions. The White House Easter Egg Roll across the White House lawn is an annual event on the Monday after Easter. The first official White House egg roll was in 1878 when Rutherford B. Hayes was president. The event has no religious significance, although some have considered egg rolling symbolic of the stone blocking Jesus’ tomb being rolled away, leading to his resurrection.
Free Easter Download
Download your free Easter Traditions Trivia Printable here.