Easter Sunday Facts
For many, Easter is one of the most sacred and beloved holidays of the year. Whether or not you attend church on the big day, there are so many lovely traditions to enjoy, from brightly colored Easter baskets stuffed with eggs, chocolate bunnies, and small gifts for kids, to the extravagant brunches and wonderful dinners marking the occasion. You can even dress up your home inside and out with festive Easter decorations, or celebrate the day with Easter crafts fit for the whole family. But amidst all the fun, have you ever stopped to ponder Easter facts like, say, where that bunny came from, or what those colored eggs really mean?
There’s a whole fascinating history behind Easter’s most iconic symbols and customs, from elaborate egg decorating to the name itself, which some historians believe predates Christianity—and we’ve gathered the most interesting ones for you here. Along with historical tidbits, we’ve also dug up plenty of surprising information about newer Easter practices, including dressing up and chowing down (marshmallow Peeps, we’re looking at you!). So, whether you’re simply looking to expand your knowledge, or you would like some good trivia questions to ask before you turn on your favorite Easter movie, we have what you need. After you’ve tested your knowledge, check out our guide to the Easter Bunny Tracker, which is sure to become your family’s new favorite spring holiday tradition.
1Easter Is Named for a Fertility Goddess
Many historians believe that Christians named Easter after Eastre or Eostre, a pagan Anglo-Saxon goddess, in the hopes of encouraging conversion. Like the Christian equivalent, Eastre festivities heralded the coming of spring after winter’s long slumber.
2Easter is the Oldest Christian Holiday
Celebrating Jesus’s resurrection, the foundation upon which Christianity was built, Easter is one of the most important Christian holy days.
3Eggs Were Originally Dyed to Represent Christ’s Blood
The tradition of dyeing Easter eggs is said to date back to ancient Mesopotamia. In modern times, it continues on in secular fashion as well as in Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, where eggs are dyed red, then blessed and passed out to supplicants.
4The Easter Bunny is German
Both hares and eggs were signs of fertility in Germany during the Middle Ages, and it was during this time that the legend of an egg-laying, candy-giving bunny was born. It wasn’t until the first Germans immigrated to America in the 1700s that the Easter Bunny became a beloved tradition here.
5We Have the Ukraine to Thank for Egg Decorating
While the tradition of dyeing eggs at Easter may have begun as a religious practice, the custom of decorating those eggs comes from a Ukrainian craft dating back thousands of years. The eggs, called pysankas, are painstakingly created using wax and dyes, a process Ukrainian immigrants brought with them to the United States.
6In 2007, Florida Held the Largest Easter Egg Hunt Ever
And a whopping 9,753 children participated, searching for 501,000 eggs. Speaking of Easter egg hunts, it was President Rutherford B. Hayes who instituted the first White House Easter Egg Roll in 1878. It usually attracts some 30,000 people, although the 2020 and 2021 events were canceled due to COVID-19. No announcement has been made regarding this year’s event.
7But Easter Games Used to be Even Weirder
Yep, back in the Middle Ages priests used to play a sort of “Hot Potato” game where they would toss a hard-boiled egg at a choir boy. The boy would then throw it to another boy and so on, until the clock struck midnight. Whoever was holding the egg at that point got to eat it.
8Dressing Up for Easter is Based on a Superstition
While you might think that dressing to the nines on Easter Sunday is simply a sign of respect for the holiday, that’s not the case. At least it wasn’t in 19th-century New York, when residents believed that wearing new duds on Easter would bring luck for the rest of the year. These days, it’s estimated that $3.3 billion is spent on Easter finery.
9Those Brightly Colored Clothes Have a Meaning
All those pastels and floral prints folks wear on Easter are meant as a tip of the hat to spring’s arrival. And the holiday’s extravagant headwear? It only evolved into a popular tradition after Irving Berlin wrote of Easter bonnets in his hit 1933 song, “Easter Parade.”
10Only a Dozen States Recognize Good Friday
Commemorating Jesus’s crucifixion, Good Friday occurs two days prior to Easter. States like New Jersey, Connecticut, and Texas have named it a state holiday, but it has not been designated a federal one.
11The World’s Tallest Easter Egg Was Made in Italy in 2011
It stood a jaw-dropping 34 feet and 1.05 inches tall and weighed 15,873 pounds. Speaking of Easter eggs, a little more than half of Americans say they like their eggs filled with peanut butter, caramel, or chocolate ganache, rather than hollow or made of solid chocolate.
12We Go for the Ears First
It’s true. A little more than three-quarters of people say they consume the ears on the chocolate bunny first, with the rest initially eating the feet, tail, or whatever looks appealing at the time. However you slice (bite?) it, you’re part of a proud tradition—some 91 million chocolate bunnies are sold every year in the United States.
13Dark Chocolate Isn’t the Go-To Sweet
Whether you’re eating chocolate eggs or chocolate bunnies, chances are they’re going to be made of milk chocolate. It seems only 15 percent of adult Americans like dark chocolate. Either way, a total of $2.5 billion is spent on chocolate at Easter.
1416 Billion Jelly Beans Are Made in the U.S. Annually
Although they became the first candy to be sold by weight (rather than price) back in the 1900s, it wasn’t until the 1930s that people started buying jelly beans specifically for Easter. Nowadays, enough are eaten each year to circle the globe more than five times.
15About 5.5 Million Peeps Are Made Daily
In 1953, it took 27 hours to make a Peep. Today, it can be done in six minutes. During Easter alone, Americans consume more than 600 million of the marshmallow treat, making it the holiday’s second-most popular candy. Chocolate still ranks as number one. Ten percent of people prefer to eat them stale; three percent like their Peeps frozen.
16There’s a Reason We Serve Ham for Easter Lunch
Most early Easter celebrations would have included lamb for the special dinner, because the holiday is rooted in Jewish Passover. Today, however, most American Easter menus include ham instead—and that’s due to the holiday’s timing. Years ago, hams were cured during the winter months and were ready to eat in early spring.
17We Really Love Our Eggs
Americans purchase a massive amount of eggs each year—in excess of 180 million. Years ago, families dyed their Easter eggs naturally using onion skins, beets, and purple cabbage. While some still use these methods today, more than 10 million packaged dye kits—the kind where you plop a color tablet into a cup of white vinegar—are sold annually. Everyone else must be deviling their eggs for Easter brunch.
18It’s Okay to Hoard All That Chocolate
The suggested maximum storage time is eight to 12 months for milk chocolate, so says the National Confectioners Association. You would need at least that long to make a dent in the largest documented chocolate Easter bunny. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the enormous sweet treat stood 12 feet tall and weighed 6,635 pounds. Dark chocolate lovers rejoice: You can store your confections up to two years if it’s wrapped in foil and kept in a cool, dark, dry place.
FACTS ABOUT EASTER
Welcome to DoSomething.org, a global movement of millions of young people making positive change, online and off! The 11 facts you want are below, and the sources for the facts are at the very bottom of the page. After you learn something, Do Something! Find out how to take action here.
- Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Christian religion.
- Eggs have been seen as ancient symbol of fertility, while springtime is considered to bring new life and rebirth.
- Americans spend $1.9 billion on Easter candy. That’s the second biggest candy holiday after Halloween.
- 70% of Easter candy purchased is chocolate.
- 76% of Americans think the ears of a chocolate bunny should be the first to be eaten.
- Egg dyes were once made out of natural items such as onion peels, tree bark, flower petals, and juices.
- There’s much debate about the practice of dyeing chicks. Many hatcheries no longer participate, but others say that it isn’t dangerous to the chick’s health because the dye only lasts until the chicks shed their fluff and grow their feathers.
- The first story of a rabbit (later named the “Easter Bunny”) hiding eggs in a garden was published in 1680.
- Easter takes place on a Sunday, after the 40-day period called Lent. Lent is referred to as a time of fasting, but participants focus more on giving up one significant indulgence.
- Holy Week is the celebrated during the week leading up to Easter. It begins on Palm Sunday, continues on to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and then finally, Easter Sunday.
- “The White House Easter Egg Roll” event has been celebrated by the President of the United States and their families since 1878.