Easter: The Symbols, Traditions & Its Uniting Power.
Easter traditions and symbols have evolved over time, though some have been around for centuries. While to Christians, Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, many Easter traditions are not found in the Holy Book.
In this post, we explain the History of the common Easter symbols and traditions and how it has indirectly played a role to fostering global UNITY.
Common Easter symbols and traditions
- Easter Bunny
- Easter Eggs
- Easter Candy
- Easter Lilies
- Easter Parade
- Lamb and Other Traditional Easter Foods
In some households, a character known as the Easter Bunny delivers candy and chocolate eggs to children on Easter Sunday morning. These candies often arrive in an Easter basket.
The exact origins of the Easter Bunny tradition are unknown, although some historians believe it arrived in America with German immigrants in the 1700s. Rabbits are, in many cultures, known as enthusiastic pro creators, so the arrival of baby bunnies in springtime meadows became associated with birth and renewal.
Irrespective of denomination, there are many Easter-time traditions with roots that can be traced to non-Christian and even pagan or non-religious celebrations. Many non-Christians choose to observe these traditions while essentially ignoring the religious aspects of the celebration.
It’s believed that eggs represented fertility and birth in certain pagan traditions that pre-date Christianity. Egg decorating may have become part of the Easter celebration in a nod to the religious significance of Easter, i.e., Jesus’ resurrection or re-birth. While other beliefs that the event has no religious significance, although some people have considered egg rolling symbolic of the stone blocking Jesus’ tomb being rolled away, leading to his resurrection.
Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in America after Halloween. Among the most popular sweet treats associated with this day are chocolate eggs, which date back to early 19th century Europe. Eggs have long been associated with Easter as a symbol of new life and Jesus’ resurrection. Another egg-shaped candy, the jelly bean, became associated with Easter in the 1930s (although the jelly bean’s origins reportedly date all the way back to a Biblical-era concoction called a Turkish Delight).
White Easter Lilies symbolize the purity of Christ to Christians and are common decorations in churches and homes around the Easter holiday. Their growth from dormant bulbs in the ground to flowers symbolize the rebirth and hope of Christ’s resurrection. Lilies are native to Japan and were brought to England in 1777, but wound their way to the U.S. in the wake of World War I. They went on to become the unofficial flower of Easter celebrations across the United States.
In New York City, the Easter Parade tradition dates back to the mid-1800s, when the upper crust of society would attend Easter services at various Fifth Avenue churches then stroll outside afterward, showing off their new spring outfits and hats. Average citizens started showing up along Fifth Avenue to check out the action. The tradition reached its peak by the mid-20th century, and in 1948, the popular film “Easter Parade” was released.
The Easter Parade tradition lives on in Manhattan, with Fifth Avenue from 49th Street to 57th Street being shut down during the day to traffic. Participants often sport elaborately decorated bonnets and hats. The event has no religious significance, but sources note that Easter processions have been a part of Christianity since its earliest days. Today, other cities across America also have their own parades.
Lamb is a traditional Easter food. Christians refer to Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” though lamb at Easter also has roots in early Passover celebrations. In the story of Exodus, the people of Egypt suffered a series of terrible plagues, including the death of all firstborn sons. Members of the Jewish faith painted their doorposts with sacrificed lamb’s blood so that God would “pass over” their homes. Jews who converted to Christianity continued the tradition of eating lamb at Easter. Historically, lamb would have been one of the first fresh meats available after a long winter with no livestock to slaughter.
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Barooah, J. (2012). “Easter eggs: History, Origin, Symbolism and tradition.” Huffington Post.
Chapman, E. and Schreiber, S. (2018). “The history behind your favorite Easter traditions.” Goodhousekeeping.com.