Easter is upon us once again. But besides Peter Cottontail and his colourful eggs, how much do you really know about Easter? Sure, everyone’s heard the basics about this major Christian holiday. But when it comes down to how we celebrate Easter in a modern sense — like how a giant rabbit and his love for candy came into the picture — our traditions have evolved over time. This holiday has changed a lot over the years, and there’s probably a modern-day fact or two on this list that you haven’t heard.
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Easter Sunday is about way more than pretty pastels and chowing down on all the chocolate that you can eat; the fascinating history of how we came to celebrate Easter is full of surprising and unexpected information. Before you attend mass with your family or sit down for a delicious brunch, there’s a lot to learn about this holiday’s rich background Impress your family and friends with these interesting Easter facts that explain the little-known origins behind common traditions.
1. Easter eggs had a medieval twist
Think Easter egg hunts are odd? Listen to this medieval game children’s game: the priest would give one of the choir boys a hard-boiled egg, and the boys would pass it amongst themselves until the clock struck midnight, when whoever was holding it then got to eat it. Sounds…fun?
2. Easter clothes used to be considered good luck
Old superstition held that if you wore new clothes on Easter, you would have good luck for the rest of the year. In fact, it was so widely believed that upper-class New Yorkers would quite literally strut their stuff coming out of mass in beautiful and well-to-do Fifth Avenue churches. This tradition become the basis of the modern, and decidedly less elitist, Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival in New York.
3. Easter eggs date back way before Easter
There’s evidence showing that Easter eggs originated from Medieval Europe and Christians may not have actually been the ones to start the tradition of giving eggs — a symbol of new life, fertility, and rebirth in many cultures.
4. The holiday was named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre
Scholars believe that Easter was named after a festival celebrating Eostre and the coming of spring. Her sacred symbols are thought to have been the hare and the egg.
5. Eggs are dyed to represent the Blood of Jesus Christ
Well, at least that might be one of the reasons, which stems from early Christians in Mesopotamia. There isn’t a concrete reason behind the tradition, but there are several theories.
6. Good Friday is recognised as a holiday in only 12 American states
Occurring two days before Easter Sunday, Good Friday commemorates Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, but it isn’t a federal holiday. Residents in certain states experience closures, including: New Jersey, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
7. In 2018, Americans were estimated to have spent R325 billion on Easter
The whopping number is the second-highest on record, coming really close to beating 2017. Consumers spent $5.7 billion (R102 billion) on food, $3.2 billion (R57 billion) on clothes, and $2.9 billion (R52 billion) on gifts!
8. We can thank Germany for the bunny
The idea of the Easter bunny giving candies and eggs is said to have originated in Germany during the Middle Ages, with the first written mention of this tradition dating back to the 16th century. Dutch settlers in Pennsylvania brought the bunny to the United States in the 1700s.
9. Easter and Halloween often compete for highest candy sales every year
The two holidays are always going head-to-head to have the most candy sales, usually coming close to each other. In fact, some years people buy more candy the week before Easter than the week before Halloween, but that’s because Halloween purchases are more spread out over the month leading up to the spooky night.
10. Americans eat about 1.5 million marshmallow peeps during Easter
Making them the most popular non-chocolate Easter candy. The Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, factory makes an impressive 5.5 million a day.
11. In 1953, it took 27 hours to make one peep
That’s back when they were still new to the world and were handmade with a pastry tube. But don’t worry, it was sped up to six minutes thanks to a unique machine called The Depositor.
12. More than 1.5 million Cadbury Creme Eggs are made every day
Even more impressive is that the Bournville factory in Birmingham, UK, makes 500 million every year. If you piled those eggs on top of each other, they’d be taller than Everest.
13. Americans consume more than 16 million jelly beans during this holiday
That’s enough jelly beans to circle the globe not once, not twice, but three times — or to fill a plastic egg the size of a nine-story building. First introduced as an Easter treat in the 1930s, we can’t imagine this day without them.
14. Around 90 million chocolate bunnies are sold for Easter
Considering $2.6 billion (R52 billion) is spent on candy alone during this religious celebration, it makes sense. Oh, and that’s only in the United States.
15. A surprising 59% of people eat the ears first
Only a handful start with the feet/tail, and the rest apparently don’t have a plan of action.
16. The White House Easter egg roll tradition started in 1878
It’s said that President Rutherford B. Hayes was taking a walk when children approached him asking about a possible Easter egg roll. He loved the idea and it’s been a yearly event since then.
17. In the old days, pretzels were associated with Easter
Why? Because the twists of this salty treat resemble arms crossing in prayer. We say it’s time to bring back this savoury snack to the sweets-filled holiday.
Source: Good Housekeeping US
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