The Origins of Easter Celebrations

Held on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25.

Painted easter eggs, close-up
Elizabeth Simpson/ Taxi/ Getty Images

The meaning of the many different customs observed during Easter Sunday have been buried with time. Their origins lie in both pre-Christian religions and Christianity. In one way or another all the customs are a "salute to spring" marking re-birth.

The white Easter lily has come to capture the glory of the holiday. The word "Easter" is named after Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. A festival was held in her honor every year at the vernal equinox.

People celebrate Easter according to their beliefs and their religious denominations. Christians commemorate Good Friday as the day that Jesus Christ died and Easter Sunday as the day that He was resurrected. Protestant settlers brought the custom of a sunrise service, a religious gathering at dawn, to the United States.

Who is the Easter Bunny?

The Easter Bunny is a rabbit-spirit. Long ago, he was called the "Easter Hare", hares and rabbits have frequent multiple births so they became a symbol of fertility. The custom of an Easter egg hunt began because children believed that hares laid eggs in the grass. The Romans believed that "All life comes from an egg." Christians consider eggs to be "the seed of life" and so they are symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Why we dye, or color, and decorate eggs is not certain. In ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and Persia eggs were dyed for spring festivals. In medieval Europe, beautifully decorated eggs were given as gifts.

Easter Egg Photo Gallery

Continue > Egg Rolling

In England, Germany and some other countries, children rolled eggs down hills on Easter morning, a game which has been connected to the rolling away of the rock from Jesus Christ's tomb when he was resurrected. British settlers brought this custom to the New World.

Dolly Madison - Queen of Egg Rolling

Easter Parades

Good Friday is a federal holiday in 16 states and many schools and businesses throughout the U.S. are closed on this Friday.

Continue > Strange Easter Patents