History of the Easter Basket

It can be difficult to see where some Easter traditions come from. Like with many Christian feasts, old folk customs celebrated at similar times of the year have survived and evolved throughout the centuries. Although the date of Easter changes each year, it is celebrated in Spring, a time of year with great importance to all ancient cultures. No wonder some of their traditions are still with us today!

Kids’ Easter Baskets are a combination of a few customs, and we need to go back a long way to find their origin. It is said that the old German fertility goddess, Ēostre, was surrounded by light that was carried by hares. Ēostre, is seems, became the origin of the word ‘Easter’, while the hares took several centuries to become the Easter Bunny! The details have been lost in the mists of time, but by the early 17th Century, some Germans had certainly begun to use the Easter Bunny as a symbol representing Easter.

It’s easy to see why Ēostre, a fertility goddess, may have been associated with Spring, a time of new life throughout all of nature. Another sign of Spring is when the birds start to lay their eggs. In fact, other legends tell of hares that lay eggs too, so you can see how these traditions may have bonded to give us the Easter Egg. Furthermore, Catholics were traditionally not allowed to eat eggs during Lent, so by the time Easter came around, there were usually lots of eggs to go around!

All these customs came together when German immigrants came to America in the 1700’s. A tradition took hold that if children were good, the Easter Bunny (or, more correctly, the Easter Hare) would lay some colored eggs for them during the night before Easter. Children would add straw to hats and boxes to make little nests, and put them in hidden areas of their house. The next morning, they would look for their nests, and hopefully find a nice surprise waiting for them!

Over the years, the nests became Easter Baskets, and the colored eggs often sit side by side with their chocolate cousins. In fact, it’s common nowadays to add all sorts of treats to them, from candy to toys, and of course, chocolate bunnies. Many families continue the tradition of hiding the baskets, and children often discover little colored eggs hidden all over the house — so let the Easter Egg hunt begin!

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