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The Origins of Easter Traditions

Where did we get the idea for our most common Easter traditions?

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Happy Easter. 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?

Dyeing Easter Eggs

Today, children love to dye and paint hardboiled eggs and then hide them for their friends to try and find. 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.

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 legend 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

The pagans celebrated Eostre, a goddess of flowers and springtime. This is likely where we get the name “Easter.” In the 1700s, German immigrants brought their version to the United States by introducing an egg-laying bunny which was called “Osterhase.”

The Easter Basket

This tradition is the next step in the German Osterhase story. Children created nests so the bunny would stop at their homes and lay its colorful eggs for them. Today’s nests are now baskets.

Egg Knocking

Have you ever heard of egg knocking? This is a sport where contestants face each other and tap the pointed ends of their eggs against the other until one “survives” and the other cracks. This tradition began in medieval Europe but is a hot topic in Marksville, Louisiana. Since 1956, families have gathered to battle their eggs on Easter Sunday.

Which of these traditions will you be practicing this Easter Sunday?

Kelli Ballard

National Correspondent at and Kelli Ballard is an author, editor, and publisher. Her writing interests span many genres including a former crime/government reporter, fiction novelist, and playwright. Originally a Central California girl, Kelli now resides in the Seattle area.

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