My mom loved to sew and, back in the day, that was an economical way of dressing your family. So it’s only fitting that this Mother Hen made matching outfits for her four little chicks on Easter. Every year, she would choose a pastel color, find the perfect fabric, and sew our Easter outfits. Of course, no ensemble would be complete without a hat to top it off – a white wide-brim hat with matching fabric around the base. After church, we’d waltz out into the parking lot while the other church goers commented on our matching outfits. I guess you could say we had our own little Easter Parade out west. So just how did the Easter Parade get started? Or where did some of our Easter traditions begin?
The Easter Parade began in 1880 when the upper class would stroll out onto New York’s Fifth Avenue after attending church showing off their new outfits and hats. Many would come to see what the latest fashion trends were for spring. In 1948, MGM released the musical film Easter Parade staring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland, which popularized the parade. Today, elaborate outfits and hats are worn by men, women, and even pets, as they walk down Fifth Avenue on Easter Sunday.
The Easter Bunny is the most recognized critter at Easter time. When German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania, they introduced the Easter hare (also known as the Easter Bunny) who would leave special eggs based on a child’s behavior. If a child was good, when they awoke they would find colored eggs placed in the garden by the Easter Bunny.
In France and Germany during the 19th century, children would use straw from hats or baskets to make nests, so the Easter Bunny could leave special eggs for them. The tradition spread and when it came to the states, the nests were replaced with baskets. Easter baskets are now lined with plastic grass to resemble nests and filled with all sorts of goodies, including eggs, candy, and small gifts.
Eggs have long been viewed as a symbol of fertility and new life and several ancient cultures used them in their spring festivals. During Lent, eggs were forbidden, so many boiled their eggs to preserve them during this period. Chicken eggs were originally dyed or painted red to symbolize the blood of Christ that was shed on the cross for our sins. The egg represented new life, which came to those who believed in Jesus. Today, Easter eggs are dyed in a rainbow of spring colors.
Chocolates and jelly beans and marshmallow Peeps®, oh my! No Easter basket would be complete without some sweets to go along with those hard-boiled and plastic Easter eggs. Next to Halloween, more candy is sold at Easter time than any other holiday. Ninety million chocolate bunnies are made each year. Boy, those bunnies sure do multiply! With their egg-like appearance, jelly beans jumped onto the scene in the 1930s. They come in a variety of flavors, but cherry still tops the list as everyone’s favorite. Chicks are all the rage these days, hence the name Peeps®. The company started with yellow chicks, but has expanded their line to include bunnies. Today, both are available in a variety of colors and flavors.
Easter Egg Roll or Egg Hunt
Easter egg rolls and egg hunts are popular games played at Easter time. Egg rolling, where hard-boiled eggs are rolled down a hill, was very popular in England and other countries. Many historians believed First Lady Dolly Madison was the first to bring the idea to the United States. Initially, the egg rolls were held at the Capital, but moved to the White House after Congress passed the Turf Protection Law. In 1878, the White House held its first official egg roll. Easter egg hunts involved hiding hard-boiled eggs, typically hidden by the Easter Bunny. It is believe this custom came from the German’s tradition of the Easter hare.
Growing up, the Easter Bunny would often visit us on Easter Sunday, hide candy-filled plastic eggs, and even pose for pictures. I guess that’s the advantage of having a friend whose mother didn’t sew a new spring outfit for her, but a bunny suit instead!
© By Sheri Lamas