Irrespective of denomination, there are many Easter-time traditions with roots that can be traced to non-Christian and even pagan or non-religious celebrations. Many non-Christians choose to observe these traditions while essentially ignoring the religious aspects of the celebration.
Examples of non-religious Easter traditions include Easter eggs, and related games such as egg rolling and egg decorating.
It’s believed that eggs represented fertility and birth in certain pagan traditions that pre-date Christianity. Egg decorating may have become part of the Easter celebration in a nod to the religious significance of Easter, i.e., Jesus’ resurrection or re-birth.
Many people—mostly children—also participate in Easter egg “hunts,” in which decorated eggs are hidden.
THE EASTER BUNNY
In some households, a character known as the Easter Bunny delivers candy and chocolate eggs to children on Easter Sunday morning. These candies often arrive in an Easter basket.
The exact origins of the Easter Bunny tradition are unknown, although some historians believe it arrived in America with German immigrants in the 1700s. Rabbits are, in many cultures, known as enthusiastic procreators, so the arrival of baby bunnies in springtime meadows became associated with birth and renewal.
Notably, several Protestant Christian denominations, including Lutherans and Quakers, have opted to formally abandon many Easter traditions, deeming them too pagan. However, many religious observers of Easter also include them in their celebrations.
An Easter dinner of lamb also has historical roots, since a lamb was often used as a sacrificial animal in Jewish traditions, and lamb is frequently served during Passover. The phrase “lamb of God” is sometimes used to refer to Jesus and the sacrificial nature of his death.
Today, Easter is a commercial event as well as a religious holiday, marked by high sales for greeting cards, candies (such as Peeps, chocolate eggs and chocolate Easter bunnies) and other gifts.
Sifferlin, A. (2015). “What’s the origin of the Easter bunny?” Time.com.
Barooah, J. (2012). “Easter eggs: History, Origin, Symbolism and tradition.” Huffington Post.