Here comes Peter Cottontail! Easter falls on April 4, 2021 – for many, marking the unofficial end of spring and, in the Christian religion, the end of the Lenten season and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Over the years, Easter has become a commercial holiday, and turned into an egg-cellent time of the year where we all get dressed up, dye easter eggs and indulge in some Easter candy.
But how much do you Peeps really know about Easter? Here are some fun facts about the holiday:
Why do we call it Easter?
It is believed that the holiday is called Easter after the Germanic goddess Eastre, who ushered in spring and was the goddess of fertility.
Professor Carole Levin told TIME, “Some Christian missionaries hoped that celebrating Christian holy days at the same times as pagan festivals would encourage conversion, especially if some of the symbols carried over. Eggs were part of the celebration of Eastre. Apparently eggs were eaten at the festival and also possibly buried in the ground to encourage fertility.”
Where did the Easter bunny come from?
Germany is to thank for our Easter mascot, who hippity hops when Easter’s on its way. But like the egg, rabbits were considered a sign of fertility — perhaps because of just how easily and quickly they procreate?
In the 1700s, German immigrants brought over their tradition of a rabbit that laid eggs called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Traditionally, children would make nests (which is where we get our Easter baskets from) for the Easter bunny to leave its eggs in. Like setting out cookies for Santa Claus, kids left a carrot for the Easter Bunny to enjoy. Eventually, traditions changed to include candies and small gifts in our modern Easter baskets.
What’s with all the eggs?
Eggs are a symbol of new life and rebirth, which is fitting for the Christian holiday celebrating Jesus’s resurrection, which is one reason we hunt for eggs on Easter.
Another reason is that, during the Lenten season, meat and animal byproducts were forbidden, meaning that people couldn’t enjoy eggs for 40 days and 40 nights. When Easter came, people would celebrate by decorating the eggs and then eating them to celebrate Easter and the end of their fast.
Did you know pretzels used to be the Easter food of choice?
Why? Because they looked like a person whose hands were crossed in prayer. So add a little salty to all of your Easter sweets to keep with the lost tradition.
Why do we dye eggs on Easter?
There are some other theories as to why we dye eggs in celebration of Easter. The first and most obvious is that coloring the eggs brilliant colors helps usher in spring. The other is that in the 13th century, King Edward I ordered 450 eggs to be decorated and handed out as gifts, which could have started the tradition in Europe.
A more religious theory suggests that people used to dye eggs red to represent the color of the blood of Jesus Christ.
The art of dyeing eggs originated in Ukraine and is called pysanka. Rather than those cute little dyeing kits you get from the supermarket, pysanka involved pouring melted wax onto the eggs.
Why do we dress up for Easter?
Remember being little and having to put on a bonnet? Or those particularly scratchy ankle socks with the ruffle on top? Or a seersucker … anything? Turns out dressing up is considered important because of a superstition that wearing new clothes on Easter meant that you’d have good luck for the rest of the year. That superstition has caused many a fight between mother and child, we bet!
What’s the best Easter candy?
Easter candy production nearly rivals Halloween’s – and arguments about which is the best type can be equally contentious. Below, some stats for you to consider.
An average of 5.5. million Peeps are made in a day.
500 million Cadbury Eggs are made per year.
16 billion jelly beans get made in the United States each year.
Enough Jelly Belly beans were eaten in the last year to circle the earth more than five times.
91 million chocolate bunnies are sold in the United States each year.
Hoppy Easter, every bunny!