‘Easter’ weekend will be celebrated this coming weekend. For many traditional Christians, Good Friday will begin the observance of this holy time which will end after church services on Easter Sunday. Traditionally, this is the time Christians commemorate the suffering of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross (Good Friday) and the miracle of his resurrection (3 days later). It is a time of great devotion and joy. A time to celebrate the miracle of Christianity. For many others, the celebration of these holy events has already begun.
The spiritual celebration of Easter is well-documented. But did you ever stop and ask yourself what do bunnies, baskets and candy have to do with Easter? Why do Americans spend millions (maybe even billions) of dollars each year buying candy and goodies to be placed in baskets from the Easter bunny for the children when the basis of Easter is spiritual? (not that I have anything against candy and goodies 🙂 But where did this idea come from? And why do we continue to celebrate it every year?
According to History.com, it is believed that the Easter bunny was introduced to America by the German immigrants who brought over their stories of an egg-laying hare in the 1700’s. These immigrants settled in Pennsylvania and called their egg-laying hare “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the United States and expanded to include chocolate and other goodies while decorated baskets replaced nests.
At this time, Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in America, after Halloween. Chocolate eggs, date back to early 19th century Europe. Jelly beans, (another egg-shaped candy), became associated with Easter in the 1930’s. The marshmallow Peep, was first sold by Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based candy manufacturer Just Born in the 1950’s. (Just Born was founded by Russian immigrant Sam Born in 1923.) Peeps have been the top-selling non-chocolate Easter candy for the past decade.
But what do the Easter bunny and candy really have to do with the religious aspect of Easter? Nothing, historically, according to the sources I have read. Maybe current practices of celebrating the holiday are simply a way for the spirit of Easter to be encapsulated for children. A way for children to understand the importance of being together with loved ones and celebrating Easter using methods that they can relate to.
Regardless of the connection between the religious and secular celebrations of Easter, the fact remains that they are both ingrained in our culture and are here to stay. In addition, both methods celebrate the love of mankind, hope, and the gifts given to each other. What better reason is there to celebrate than that?
Thanks for reading the blog for The Simple Heart of Life and I hope you have a blessed Easter.
This is a time of renewal
as it happens every spring.
The flowers now are blooming.
The birds begin to sing.
Easter is a time of hope
and a day of rebirth.
It shows that winter’s over
and spring has come to Earth.