Easter is almost here. A lot of countries around the world celebrate Easter. For example, in my country, Russia, Easter is still a month away. Russian Orthodox Church just started lent, there is still a long way to go before this most important celebration of the spring.
As other countries we have our traditions. No, we don’t have Easter bunny or Easter baskets, but we do dye eggs. I am pretty sure that things are probably a lot different now, but when I was small I remember people used to boil their eggs with onion peel and that would somehow turn them this brownish orange color. Also, it is customary on Easter to tell everyone, “Crist has risen” and you will always receive an answer, “Indeed, He did.” People tell it to their family members, friends and just anyone else out there. Of course there are special Easter cakes and Kulich (Easter bread). This is just to give you an idea about Easter in Russia. But as any other foreigner in the United States, when I came here I also asked myself numerous times about the Easter bunny. Why a bunny? And what exactly a bunny has to do with Easter? So I decided to share with you what I found out about Easter traditions in the United States.
Easter eggs: you might have asked yourself why in the world we dye eggs on Easter. Well, according to some it has a religious meaning to it. They say that eggs are symbol of Resurrection of Jesus Christ and it is dyed red in representation of the blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross. Another explanation for dyeing eggs talks about Mary Magdalene, who was the first person to see Jesus after the Resurrection. They say she was holding a plain white egg in her hand when she was proclaiming to emperor the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The emperor told her that the Resurrection of Jesus is as likely as the egg she was holding turning red. The egg turned bright red while the emperor was still speaking. Whichever version you believe, I think they are both beautiful stories that created wonderful traditions for many Christians in the world.
Easter baskets and Easter bunny: it is believed that the tradition of the Easter bunny came to the United States in 1700s with German immigrants that settled in Pennsylvania. They brought the tradition called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws” to the United States. According to this tradition children made nests were the creature with this name would lay colored eggs. Over time it was adopted by everyone and now many children know that the Easter bunny will come at night and leave a basket full of treats for them to enjoy.
Easter candy: Easter candy is a fairly modern tradition. Did you know that Easter is second to Halloween when it comes to candy sales? The popular chocolate eggs come from XIX century Europe. Jelly beans became a huge part of Easter in the 1930s. Did you know that close to 16 billion jelly beans are made each year for Easter? The popular (not chocolate) Easter candy peeps came into the mix in the 1950s. The original peeps were handmade, marshmallow flavored chicks but later more flavors and shapes were introduced. By the way, the candy manufacturer that gave peeps to the world was founded in 1923 by Russian immigrant Sam Born.
So whether you celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ or just the arrival of the Spring, Easter is a bright and warm holiday. I hope, like me, you now understand a little more about the traditions of the Easter Bunny and dyed eggs. Happy Easter, everyone!