The Unexpected Origins of Easter Traditions | Easter Holiday
For many people, spring is about planting seeds in gardens and of course, Easter. But you won’t find many Easter traditions in the bible—most actually derive from ancient pagan practices. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t incorporate them into your holiday.
- The Easter Bunny
Historians believe that the Easter Bunny tradition started when German immigrants in America brought over their tradition of Easter egg-laying called “Osterhase.” Children would fashion nests out of sticks and leaves to provide a place for some mythical creature to lay its eggs. Though rabbits are mammals (and thus do not lay eggs), it’s likely that the rabbit was adopted as a symbol of fertility and rebirth.
- Easter Eggs
This is another pagan contribution to a major holiday! Some historians believe that pagans exchanged colored eggs as gifts to give thanks to the gods and celebrate the return of Spring. Eventually, as Christianity replaced polytheist and animist religions, this tradition carried over to signify a new kind of awakening. Some scholars are convinced that colored eggs derive from Mary Magdalene, who laid eggs at Jesus’ feet during his crucifixion. These eggs were then dyed red with his divine blood.
- Easter Ham
When the cold winters loomed large, pagan hunters would take to the forests with their spears and knives to hunt hog. These slaughtered beasts would cure all winter, making them one of the few meats ready for consumption come Springtime.
- Easter Candy
It doesn’t get much more celebratory than a basket full of chocolates. Easter candy is the most popular selling candy (after Halloween, of course), but there’s more to this story than just the American sweet tooth. Candy began to make its way into Easter traditions in the 1800s, when European candy-makers began crafting chocolate eggs. Today, it’s easier than ever to find various chocolate-shaped candies around Easter, and we have the chocolate connoisseurs of the past to thank for that.