15 Easter Traditions to Include in Your Yearly Celebration

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Easter will be here before you know it (psst: Easter Sunday falls on April 9 this year) and, much like Christmas, this Christian holiday has major religious significance and a celebratory spirit that even secular families find hard to resist. As such, we put together a list of major Easter traditions and their origins for your edification. While you may be familiar with some of these customs (like hiding Easter eggs or going to church), others may surprise you (think: donning an Easter bonnet or sending lilies). Read on and celebrate however you see fit.

35 Fun Easter Gifts for Kids (That Aren’t Massive Chocolate Bunnies)

1. Hunt for Easter Eggs

You’re probably fairly familiar with this beloved Easter tradition, as it has become a mainstay of the holiday merriment in secular and religious households alike. The practice of hiding Easter eggs for little ones to hunt down dates back to the late 16th century Germany, when the Protestant reformer Martin Luther started organizing egg hunts for his congregation. Per historians at English Heritage, “the men would hide the eggs for the women and children to find [as] a nod to the story of the resurrection, in which [Jesus’s] empty tomb was discovered by women.”

These days, the hidden treasure is typically attributed to the magic workings of the Easter Bunny—and interestingly enough, it was German immigrants from the 17th century who introduced the concept of the Easter Bunny stateside.

2. Dye Easter Eggs

Although Easter is a Christian holiday, many of the symbols associated with it are closely linked to Pagan traditions. The egg, for example, was an ancient Pagan symbol of new life that was adopted by Christians to symbolize Jesus’s resurrection. As for why we dye them pretty colors, the experts at explain that “eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration.” Needless to say, the tradition persists (and if you’re planning on participating in it this year, you can find some nifty ideas here).

3. Give Egg-shaped Candies

As previously mentioned, the egg is an important symbol of Jesus’s resurrection, which explains why it’s also the shape of choice for all manner of Easter candies—including the jelly bean and a wide variety of chocolate confections—that are given to kids (and sometimes snacked on by adults) throughout the festivities.

4. Go to Church

Easter is one of the most important Christian holidays and always falls on a Sunday—so naturally, religious folk flock to church to celebrate the occasion. “Sunrise masses” are associated with Easter, in particular, as they are associated with Mary’s early morning visit to Jesus’s empty tomb.

5. Go Easter Egg Rolling

Here, a traditional Easter game in which children race to roll a hard boiled egg across the finish line using a spoon.  Or at least that’s the version of the game played at the White House’s annual event—there are actually numerous variations on this classic pastime played around the globe.

6. Eat a Traditional Easter Dinner

There are a few traditional dishes you’ll find at the Easter table, but lamb is the big one. Per, the significance of eating lamb on Easter can be explained partly by the fact that Christians refer to Jesus as “the lamb as God,” but also has roots in early Passover celebrations—relating to the plagues and lamb’s blood painted on doors, as told in Exodus—that Jews retained after converting to Christianity. Today, lamb remains a main feature of the Easter feast, though ham is often preferred for being a more seasonal and practical choice. Deviled eggs and roasted carrots are often served alongside the holiday meat (but little explanation is needed there).

7. Attend an Easter Parade

This holiday tradition began in New York City in the 1800s as a veritable fashion show, with families showing off fanciful Easter bonnets (more on that later) and their Sunday best after church. There’s no religious significance to this annual celebratory event, but it has nevertheless been adopted by towns and cities across the country—and, yes, the show goes on in the Big Apple to this day.

8. Give Easter Baskets

In many households, the Easter Bunny does more than just hide hard boiled (or plastic eggs). The exchange of lavish gift baskets is thought to have been started by early Catholics as a way of celebrating the end of Lent, but the Easter Bunny has been getting credit ever since he came on the scene. (Much to the delight of the modern day children who get gifted these goody-filled baskets.)

9. Send Easter Lilies

These pretty white flowers make a frequent appearance in the Bible and scholars at the University of Nevada, Reno say they represent “purity, rebirth, new beginnings and hope,” and are thus, “most often associated with the resurrection of Jesus Christ as observed on Easter.” As such, you’ll find Easter lily arrangements at nearly every celebration, from church services to brunch parties, and they are commonly gifted between family and friends, too.

10. Enjoy an Easter Brunch

The big lamb-or-ham dinner isn’t the only food-oriented event of the holiday. While the origins of Easter brunch are unclear, it’s very much a thing. We’re guessing someone figured out that a mouth-watering spread of egg-based breakfast dishes served after church service just made a lot of sense for the holiday. (And whoever that was, we salute you.)

11. Wear Your Nicest Clothes

It’s a major holiday, so it only makes sense to put on your finest threads—both for church service and the festivities that follow. There’s also quite a historical precedent for this one: According to, the tradition of donning shiny, new attire can be traced back to the Roman Empire and has been acknowledged in 16th century literary works, including those of Shakespeare.

12. Bake (and Eat) Holiday Desserts

Much like any (re)birthday, Easter is a special occasion that warrants a festive and delicious cake. Carrot cake is an obvious choice here—the Easter Bunny approves—but there are a whole host of delicious Easter desserts that fit the bill if baking and frosting a whole cake feels too daunting. Oh, and we’d be remiss not to mention that hot cross buns are probably the most traditional Easter baked good (and pretty darn tasty, too).

13. Eat Hollow Chocolates

Your kid took a bite out of the enormous chocolate Easter bunny in their basket and looked slightly crestfallen…it’s empty inside! That’s right, buddy—you could quite literally chip a tooth on a solid bunny that size. (Seriously, the Smithsonian did a deep dive on this subject.) Thus, the birth of the generously-sized, but oh-so hollow holiday chocolate. Say your prayers and thank the dentists of yore.

14. Wear an Easter Bonnet

Historians believe that the Easter bonnet was born on the first Easter Sunday after the end of the American Civil War. That said, this tradition didn’t truly catch on until several years later at the first NYC Easter Parade. It would continue to gain traction at the Big Apple’s holiday parade for decades to come, and remains a time-honored extension of the tradition for ‘shiny and new’ attire.

15. Read the Bible with Family

Many Easter traditions encourage secular participation, but if you’re inclined to connect with the religious significance of the holiday, you’ll find the full story in the Bible. Even if you can’t make it to a sunrise service, there’s plenty of holiday learning to be had in your home copy of the Bible—and for many religious families, Easter is a day to read aloud the story of Christ’s miraculous resurrection. 

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Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...