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The History of Popular Easter Traditions

Andrew Martin
4 min readApr 4, 2021

Some of the holiday’s most popular traditions have interesting origins

The annual celebration of Easter will occur on April 4th. It’s a day that has strong history and traditions in the United States, but how long have we done and why do we do some of the things that we do in observance of this Christian holiday that recognizes the resurrection of Jesus, as described in the Bible?

What’s the deal with the Easter Bunny?: Perhaps the most enduring Easter tradition is that of the Easter Bunny. The “Santa Claus” of Easter brings colorful baskets of decorated eggs and sweet treats to children. The confluence of rabbits, candy and eggs on this holiday has puzzled some, but the tradition does have a rich history.

According to Time, one theory about the origins of the Easter Bunny date back to an ancient pagan celebration that some believe was a forebear of the holiday. This was the festival of Eostre, which honored the god of fertility and spring. The rabbit was perhaps a natural symbol for this ritual, given its proclivity for breeding and re-emergence during the dying days of winter.

In America, the tradition of the Easter Bunny goes back to the 18th century when German immigrants in Pennsylvania shared their homeland tradition of Osterhase (also known as Oschter Haws), which was a rabbit that laid and distributed its colorful eggs to well-behaved children. The young people would construct nests for the eggs to be left and would sometimes leave carrots and other treats for the Bunny to snack on in between deliveries. Over time, the gifts the Bunny was reputed to leave evolved from baubles like eggs to candy and other sweets, which has become a literal cottage industry.

Why do so many people eat ham?: Although it’s not universal (lamb is a very popular protein in parts of the world), many American tables boast a ham as the centerpiece of the primary Easter meal. Why has this country diverged with their meat of choice on this holiday?

The Easter dinner is actually a continuation of the tradition of Passover dinner, which celebrates how Jews in Egypt were able to escape God’s punishment of inflicting plagues by painting their doors with lambs’ blood, signifying their homes were to be “passed over.” Over time, the transition from lamb or…

Andrew Martin

Dabbler in history, investing & writing. Master’s degree in baseball history. Passionate about history, diversity, culture, sports, investing and crypto.