Come Easter Sunday, kiddies across the country will be eagerly scouring their backyards looking for coloured eggs in between the lilly pilly and sugarbush and gnawing the ears off chocolate bunnies. This sounds insane, yet it’s a tradition we are all familiar with and many of us embrace with chocolate-bingeing abandon. Here are some of the wonderful (and wacky!) Easter traditions we love.
Having an egg-laying rabbit (sometimes 6-foot tall in a snappy vest) as the mascot of Easter seems like the wackiest holiday tradition of all — but there’s method in the madness. Allegedly, Easter originated from the pagans, who celebrated with Eostre — a goddess of fertility — to pray for good harvests.
Given that Easter is a fertility celebration, the rabbit makes sense. Bunnies are incredible breeders — they can get pregnant at three months old, gestate in 30 days, have litters of up to 12 and get pregnant again the following day! Bunny + eggs = fertility. It all adds up… right?
The Easter bunny is said to have hit the mainstream in the 17th century when the German Lutherans settled in Pennsylvania in America. They brought with them a fleet of customs, including fastnachts (deep-fried doughnuts), Santa’s cranky cousin, the Belsnickel, and Oschter Haws, which is German for “Easter hare”. Eventually the tradition spread across the country and then the world.
We’re all familiar with choccy eggs wrapped in colourful foil for gifting and gorging over the Easter period, but it actually started with the colouring of real eggs to give as presents. No one knows the exact origins of the custom but evidence shows the ancient Africans, pre-dynastic Egyptians and early Greek cultures were all egg-colourers tens of thousands of years ago. This evolved into the Christian tradition of colouring eggs red to symbolise the blood of Christ.
Dyeing boiled eggs in multi-colours with the family can be loads of fun and a lovely way to soak up the last of the mild autumn weather outside as the kids get crafty (and parents open the wine). You’ll need a dozen eggs, food dye, white vinegar and crayons. (We’ve got steps on how to colour eggs here.) It’s so much fun to make a festive Good Friday tradition of dyeing eggs, so don’t forget a yummy platter of nibbles, like this gorgeous spread by @housenerd. This year Easter will be all about staying home and cherishing time with family.
What Easter Sunday is complete without the egg hunt? It’s not hard to see the appeal of frolicking through soft grass to search for brightly coloured chocolate eggs to stuff into your gob before Mum says, “That’s enough!”
This tradition also came from those wacky Dutch Pennsylvanians in the 1600s. They encouraged kids to look for the eggs in the grass left by the egg-laying bunny, Oschter Haws. Boys put out woollen hats and girls put out bonnets. If you were good, you got some coloured eggs. If you were bad, you got pellets. They didn’t have food dye back then so Pennsylvanian parents used onion skins, cabbage leaves, tree bark and other natural materials to colour eggs. Yum, yum.
Oh, how spoiled our kids are today with their jumbo Cadbury eggs and Red Tulip bunnies! But it’s nice to keep this tradition alive. Bolster your Sunday-morning chocolate egg search with the coloured boiled eggs (tell the kids to leave them out the night before so the Easter Bunny can hide them). The boiled eggs can be made into devilled eggs or egg-salad sandwiches for Easter brunch. But remember to tell the Oschter Haws to hide all of the eggs out of reach of pets!
It’s easy to see the leap from hardboiled eggs to the chocolate variety and choco-bunnies. After all, everything should be made of chocolate. But why are they hollow? It seems like a cruel joke, like unwrapping a gift to find an empty box inside. But according to the original manufacturers of chocolate eggs, it’s for kids’ teeth.
Of course, hollow eggs also allow for a bit of wow factor in terms of greater quantity. Ransacking the garden or living room for dozens of colourful foil-wrapped hollow eggs and bunnies is more exciting than discovering a single solid confection drowning in a sea of faux grass in an Easter basket.
Speaking of which, baskets are another Easter tradition we love. Filled with straw, fake grass or shredded paper, they kind of look like nests. At least, that was the idea behind them. It’s said the Dutch Pennsylvanian children eventually swapped up their egg-collecting hats for baskets full of grass or straw to look like cosy nests for the Oschter Haws to lay his goodies in. Yes, his. We’re talking about a bunny that lays eggs… just roll with it.
Others say the fertility goddess herself, Eostre, carried a basket filled with eggs and seeds to offer new life and a successful harvest.
Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns. We all know the nursery rhyme (and played it on the recorder ad nauseam in primary school), but what do fruity buns with a cross on top have to do with Easter? Supposedly they go back to the 12th century when a monk made a batch and marked them with a cross to celebrate Good Friday. And it caught on. That’s some seriously savvy brand promotion. Now they come in all different flavours from apple to choc-chip and, of course, the traditional.
Hi Where can I get the Bamboo Cutlery from? Jade