Easter is fast-approaching. Parents are filling pastel-colored baskets with plastic grass and candy-filled eggs. Children are excitedly counting down the days until the Easter Bunny visits their home and showers them with treats. But what do we know about these traditions? Not much. Learn about the origins of Easter traditions, ahead.
Why rabbits are synonymous with Easter
Rabbits are “known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life,” according to History.com. The procreation process for rabbits is fast, allowing for them to multiply very quickly. Breeding season lasts for three-quarters of the year and they only gestate for 30 days, according to Mental Floss. “They’re more or less ready to mate all the time.”
Hint: German immigrants bring the Easter Bunny to America.
German immigrants introduced the U.S. to the Easter Bunny
In the 1700s, German immigrants brought with them stories of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws,” according to History.com. Their children made nests for the hare to lay eggs in and over time, the custom spread across America.
Hint: Easter eggs are significant for a number of reasons.
Decorating Easter eggs
Easter eggs are connected to pagan traditions, according to History.com. Eggs are ancient symbols of new life and are linked to pagan festivals celebrating spring. For Christians, “Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection.” Some sources say people have decorated Easter eggs since at least the 13th century. The reason is eggs were forbidden during the Lenten season.
Hint: Jelly beans started showing up in Easter baskets during this time period.
Jelly beans and Easter
Jelly beans began their association with Easter in the 1930s, according to History.com. Most likely due to their egg-like shape and affordable price tag is how they ended up in Easter baskets. The origin of jelly beans dates back to the Biblical era food, a Turkish Delight.
Hint: Europeans are to thank for chocolate eggs.
Chocolate eggs are the most popular Easter candy
The most popular Easter candy is the chocolate egg. Chocolate eggs and their association with Easter date back to the early 1800s in Europe. Except then, the chocolate eggs were bitter and hard, according to the BBC.
Hint: Easter parades have no religious significance.
People show off new clothes during Easter parade
There’s no religious significance to Easter parades but Easter processions has been around since the beginning of Christianity, according to History.com. The most famous Easter parade takes place in New York City. Beginning in the mid-1800s, wealthy members of society would attend church then walk down Fifth Avenue showing off their new spring outfits. The tradition became so popular, Fred Astaire and Judy Garland star in a film about the tradition, aptly named Easter Parade.
Hint: President Rutherford B. Hayes held the first White House Easter Egg Roll.
The origin of the Easter Egg Roll
In 1878, people weren’t allowed to roll Easter eggs on the U.S. Capitol grounds as they had done in previous years, according to the Library of Congress. Two years earlier, Congress approved legislation restricting public use of the grounds. President Rutherford B. Hayes let children roll eggs on White House’s South Lawn after they asked during one of his morning walks. The tradition became so popular, it remains today.