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Easter Traditions: From Rabbits to Egg Jarping – Lesson

Some of the most common Easter traditions have ancient origins.

Happy Easter! This Christian holiday celebrates the resurrection of Christ two days after his crucifixion. Traditions for this holy day can differ depending on where a person lives, but what are some of the most common, and where did they come from?

Painting Easter Eggs

Today, children love to dye and paint hardboiled eggs. The tradition of decorating eggs dates way back to the time of Jesus Christ. Eggs represent new life or rebirth, which goes well with the spring season when regrowth and new life begin again. To celebrate this, people used to decorate eggs and give them to family and friends as gifts.

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(Photo by Stephan Schulz/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Some legends say Mary Magdalene took eggs with her to Jesus’ crucifixion on what we now call Good Friday. His blood supposedly fell onto the eggs, coloring them red. Another version of the story claims Mary Magdalene took a basket of eggs to the tomb where Jesus had been placed, to share with the other women who planned to anoint his body. However, when they removed the stone from the tomb and found it empty, the eggs turned red.

The Easter Bunny

Today, kids often go on “Easter egg hunts” to find chocolate eggs hidden by the Easter bunny.

In modern times, the tale of the Easter Bunny is a far hop from its origins. Rabbits are well known for their ability to mass reproduce, which suits the idea of spring and new birth. The pagans celebrated Eostre, thought to be a Germanic goddess of flowers and springtime. This is likely where we get the name “Easter.”

In the 1700s, German immigrants brought their version of the Easter bunny to the United States by introducing an egg-laying rabbit called “Osterhase.” From there, the Easter bunny evolved with a basketful of Easter eggs and candy.

The Easter Basket

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(Photo by Mykola Tys/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

This tradition is the next step in the German Osterhase story. Children created nests so the bunny would stop at their homes and deliver its colorful eggs for them. Today’s nests are now baskets decorated with grass and filled with an assortment of goodies including candy and toys.

Egg Knocking

Have you ever heard of egg knocking, also known as egg jarping or egg tapping? This is a sport where contestants face each other and tap the pointed ends of their eggs together, until one “survives” and the other cracks. This tradition began in medieval Europe but is still a hot topic today in Marksville, Louisiana. Since 1956, families have gathered there to battle their eggs on Easter Sunday. Serious competitors even try to give their chickens an advantage to lay stronger eggs by giving them special feed.

Which of these traditions will you be practicing this Easter?