Easter is celebrated on a different date each year. Even though it’s supposed to be a Christian holiday that celebrates the end of Lent and the day that Jesus rose from the dead, it’s also filled with candy, Easter baskets full of toys and treats, and a traditional Easter supper. Although the actual date of the holiday changes every year, thanks to the Paschal Full Moon (the lunar determination is used to set the holy days that make up the holiday), some things about Easter have stayed the same for years.
1) Easter is celebrated on two different dates each year, depending on which Christian tradition people follow.
Adherents of Eastern Christianity celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar, which was based on the one created by Julius Caesar back in 46 BC. Most other Christians set Easter by the Gregorian calendar. Although the Gregorian calendar is the modern version that all countries now follow, many Orthodox Christians still set their religious dates by the Julian calendar. This is also why they celebrate Christmas on a different date.
2) Before it took place on the White House Lawn, the yearly Easter Egg Roll used to be held on the grounds of the Capitol Building.
The first Easter egg rolls held in Washington, DC, took place on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Building. This tradition started back in the late 1860s and lasted through 1876 when the Turf Act was passed. This made it illegal to use any part of the Capitol Building’s grounds as a playground of any kind. So, starting in 1878, then-President Rutherford B. Hayes moved the celebration to the White House lawn, where it’s been held ever since.
3) The most popular Easter egg dye – PAAS – gets its name from a Pennsylvania Dutch word for the holiday.
PAAS was founded in the 1880s by William Townley. At the time, he lived in New Jersey, where he owned and operated a drug store. He came up with the idea for small, water-soluble dye tablets that could be used on Easter eggs. At the time, he sold the tablets in packets for five cents apiece. When he finally decided to mass market the product, the company needed a name, so Townley chose PAAS. The term is a shortened form of “Passen” – what the Pennsylvania Dutch (also known as the Amish) called Easter.
4) Traditional Easter dinners consist of ham or lamb and vegetables.
Ham is the most popular Easter dinner. There are numerous ways to season it, but a honey glaze is one of the most common options. Organic mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, and green beans are usually served alongside it. Don’t forget the gravy and rolls! Lamb is another traditional entrée served at Easter dinner. However, since ham is usually less expensive (and you can do plenty with the leftovers) it’s found on more dinner tables than lamb.
5) Marshmallow Peeps are the most popular (non-chocolate) Easter candy – and they used to look quite different.
Although Easter is associated with jelly beans, the Marshmallow Peep is actually the most popular (and best selling) candy in the non-chocolate division. The formula for these brightly colored chicks and bunnies was created in 1950 by the Just Born Company. At first, they just made chicks, and the original mold for them had wings. Those wings vanished in 1955 when the owners of the company decided to streamline the look of the Peeps.
6) Studies have actually been done to see which parts of the chocolate bunny are eaten first.
Yes, you read that. Numerous studies and polls have been conducted on this simple topic. The results aren’t very surprising. 76% of people in America think that the ears on the chocolate bunny are the first to go. The rest start at the other end of the candy: the feet.
7) Easter is filled with pagan symbolism.
Although the holiday is Christian in nature, many of the traditions surrounding it are pagan. The lily – the main flower of the holiday – is a symbol of renewal and new life. The Easter bunny himself? Well, he’s a symbol of fertility, along with eggs. All of these symbols and more became popular during the medieval era and were incorporated into Easter traditions over the years.
8) Don’t buy Easter lilies if you have cats.
Easter lilies are pretty. They smell nice, and people routinely give them to loved ones when celebrating the holiday. They’re seen as one of the precursors to spring. However, if you have cats, especially indoor ones, you should not have lilies in your house. Every single part of the plant is toxic to cats.
9) In Switzerland, the cuckoo bird delivers Easter eggs – not the Easter bunny.
Many of the traditions celebrated in the U.S. are the same in Switzerland. Kids get giant baskets filled with candy and treats. They eat chocolate bunnies and dye hardboiled eggs. Part of their Easter mornings are spent completing Easter egg hunts. Special cakes, called Osterfladen, are served as dessert. However, there’s one main difference – the Easter bunny doesn’t hide those eggs for kids while they’re asleep the night before the holiday. Instead, the Easter cuckoo flies into every yard where he hides them for the kids to find.
10) Germany created the first chocolate Easter bunnies, and we know why those bunnies are hollow.
Chocolate Easter bunnies are a staple of the holiday. Even adults enjoy them. The concept first started during the late 19th century in Germany; the U.S. quickly caught on. However, production of them stopped during WWII thanks to the rationing of cocoa powder. By 1948 the Palmer Company (founded by war veteran Richard Palmer) started making the hollow chocolate bunnies that are still popular today. So, why are the chocolate bunnies hollow? Because they’re easier to eat that way.