Easter is coming up this weekend, and if you’re someone who celebrates the holiday you’re likely anticipating a big meal with your family, an Easter egg hunt for the kids (and kids at heart!) and what feels like the more official transition into spring. Even for many who don’t consider themselves to be religious, Easter is a holiday where they might gather with loved ones and reflect upon the things they take for granted – a sort of mini thanksgiving in a way.
But short of what you might’ve learned in Sunday school growing up, what is Easter really all about and why do we continue to celebrate it today? I’ve put together a collection of facts that might help you have a better understanding of the day and it’s meaning for others.
- Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Christian religion.
- Easter falls on a different date each year. Have you ever wondered why that is? Technically, Easter falls on the first Sunday after the full Moon after the Vernal Equinox.
- The tallest Easter egg chocolate was made in Italy in 2011. It stood at 34feet tall and weighed over 7 tons!
- The religious celebration of Easter might have deep roots to ancient Christian traditions, but the name itself comes from pagans. According to the book ‘Rabbits: The Animal Answer Guide,’ the Olde English worshipped a fertility god named Ostara and the Celtics worshipped a similar god called Eostre. Both “Ostara” and “Eostre” gave us modern English words such as estrogen, estrus and Easter.
- The art of painting eggs is called pysanka, which originated in Ukraine. It involves using wax and dyes to color the egg.
- Eggs, the unofficial symbol of Easter, have been seen as ancient symbol of fertility, while springtime is considered to bring new life and rebirth.
- Americans spend $1.9 billion on Easter candy. That’s the second biggest candy holiday after Halloween. 70% of this candy is chocolate.
- The ancient Babylonians and Egyptians exchanged colored eggs , usually red, in honor of spring. The Greeks and Romans adopted the custom, enlarging the color palette. In Medieval Europe, eggs were forbidden during Lent. This made eggs very popular at Easter. The Eastern Europeans have a history of creating beautifully colored and decorated eggs, entailing intricate designs with deep meanings. The Russians took this – and indeed, the entire celebration of Easter – to the extreme. Faberge eggs were first created as elaborate Easter gifts for the Russian royal family to give to friends.
- There used to be a tradition churches observed that resembled the game of “hot potato.” Here, the priest would toss a hard boiled egg to one of the choir boys. The boys would toss the egg amongst themselves and when the clock struck 12, whomever had the egg was the winner and got to keep the egg.
- The first story of a rabbit (later named the “Easter Bunny”) hiding eggs in a garden was published in 1680.
- The custom of lamb for Easter dinner comes from the Jewish Passover holiday. On that day, a sacrificial lamb was eaten, along with other symbolic foods, at the Passover Seder. The Christians adopted the lamb as a symbol of Jesus and retained the custom.
- Hot Cross buns, another food enjoyed by many on Easter, come from the wheat cakes that were baked in honor of Eostre. As part of the adoption of traditions, Christians added the cross on the top and had the cakes blessed by the Church. In England, it was believed that hanging a hot cross bun in the house would protect it from fire and bring good luck for the coming year.
- Americans consume more than 16 million jelly beans during this holiday. That is enough jelly beans to circle the globe not once, not twice, but three times.
- In England, doors and windows were opened on Easter Sunday so that the sun can drive out any evil within. If it rains on Easter morning, so the lore says, it will rain on the next seven Sundays.
- If you find a double-yolked egg on Easter, it is a sign of good luck.
- It used to take 30 hours to make just one marshmallow Peep! Thankfully, automation sped the process down to around 6 minutes. These days, over 70 million of the tasty chicks are sold at Easter every year.
**Special thanks to these sources: