Easter parades may have passed on by, but its many other traditions are alive and well.
Even though the internet has changed how we watch movies, families still watch “The Ten Commandments” every year, waiting for it like children waiting for the Easter Bunny. Released to theaters in 1956, ABC has broadcast the Cecille B. DeMille classic since 1973 during the Passover and Easter holidays. The movie starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, and Anne Baxter remains one of the most popular films ever made.
The Easter Bunny’s origin in America is believed to have arrived with German immigrants in Pennsylvania in the 1700s. Their children made nests for the rabbit’s delivery of its colorful eggs. Soon the tradition spread throughout the country, and Americans added chocolates, candy, and gifts to the eggs. Decorated baskets replaced the nests. Lucky for the children – baskets hold larger goodies than the nests!
Whether store-bought or personally assembled, the baskets are one of the first harbingers of spring, much like robins. Children rise early to discover what the Easter Bunny left sitting by the door. Marshmallow goodies, candy-filled plastic eggs, hollow chocolate Easter bunnies, and toys greet them through their cellophane wrapping.
Those hollow bunnies haven’t been around as long as the Easter Bunny. By comparison, they’re spring chickens! The chocolate bunnies date back to the 1890s, but hollow chocolate bunnies surfaced during World War II when cocoa was rationed. The change was practical and profitable. No wonder they’ve never gone out of style.
Style is synonymous with Easter. Fashion trends themselves have come, gone, and come again, but the excuse to buy new clothes never gets old. The thrill of the hunt for the perfect outfit rivals the one for the golden egg. Easter Sunday’s service often yields color-coordinated families at church and at the holiday buffets.
Honey-glazed ham, cheesy potatoes, roasted asparagus, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, hot cross buns, and a coconut bunny cake sits on the kitchen counter. Table settings are inviting and sometimes whimsical with displays of ceramic rabbits, miniature grass-lined baskets with tiny eggs. Spring bouquets in vases lined with peeps and jelly beans add personality and fun.
But the celebration is not complete without the egg hunt.
The children, with dye-covered fingers still smelling of last night’s vinegar dips, cover their eyes impatiently while adults hide the eggs. They race off in search of dollar store eggs stuffed with candies and the ultimate prize – the golden egg!
We probably have the mother of Princess Victoria to thank for egg hunting. On Sunday, April 7, 1833, the 14-year-old princess wrote in her diary: “Mama did some pretty painted and ornamented eggs, and we looked for them.”
As the sun sets on another Easter, the empty plastic egg quietly points back to the empty tomb and the changing season. Life on Earth is renewed as spring comes once again. -GN