Few people claim Easter as their favorite holiday, but it's just because they don't know about Easter's unique cultural history and whacky past. These Easter fun facts will set you on a deep-dive into yesteryear and get you ready for the best springtime holiday.
The First Reference to the Easter Bunny Was in 1682
You might be shocked to learn that everyone's favorite springtime rabbit didn't stem out of the industrial revolution (as so many of his holiday compatriots did), but the early modern period instead. The first written reference of the Easter Bunny was in 1682 in an essay entitled De ovis paschalibus (aka About Easter Eggs) by Georg Franck von Franckenau.
Eating Eggs Used to Be an Easter Delicacy
Historically, Easter has been a religious holiday, and there were far more restrictions in Medieval Christianity than there are today. One of those was that you weren't allowed to eat eggs during Lent, and this ban was especially difficult for people given how limited their diets were of protein. But Easter called Lent to a close, meaning everyone would feast on egg dishes (and other delicacies) to celebrate its passing.
High-Society Celebrated Easter in Style
You probably set aside some of your best clothes to wear on Easter Sunday, and this tradition stretches back hundreds of years. Yet, a unique New York tradition is the Easter Bonnet Parade, where the social elite could walk down the main streets of Manhattan dressed in their finest outfits. The Easter Day Parade still happens every year in New York City, and many people dress up in vintage outfits to honor the age-old tradition.
Peter Rabbit's Author Wrote in Code
Reading The Tale of Peter Rabbit is a part of celebrating Easter, but what you might not know is that its famous author, Beatrix Potter, wrote in code. Long before she ever thought about the lives of her woodland creatures, she was writing secret coded messages in her childhood journal. The coolest part was that Leslie Linder cracked the code on Easter Monday, 1958.
Rudolph and Peter Cottontail Have Something in Common
If you grew up on Christmas music, then you definitely know the lyrics to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. And like with many Christmas songs, you probably learned the song Peter Cottontail in school. But, did you know that the same artist who released Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer brought Peter Cottontail to life?
Legendary country western artist Gene Autry lends his musical talents to so many of your favorite holiday tunes, like Rudolph, Cottontail, and even Here Comes Santa Claus.
Thank Martin Luther for Easter Egg Hunts
You probably know Martin Luther for his infamous nailing of his 95 Theses on the church door and launching the Protestant Reformation. The religious theology he created is called Lutheranism, and it was Lutheran churches that were first known to put together Easter egg hunts.
Because hares were symbolically linked to fertility at the time, the idea was that a hare would bring a basket of brightly colored eggs for good kids, and they'd be scattered around for them to find. Hence, the Easter egg hunts we love today.
Easter Wasn't Originally a Religious Holiday
Today, it's well known that the Medieval Catholic Church deliberately took over pagan holidays and rebranded them with religious celebrations to help stop the spread of paganism. Easter is one of those holidays and was originally a day used to celebrate the spring. People would honor Eostre, a pagan goddess linked to spring and fertility, hence where the name Easter comes from.
You Can Visit Christ's Tomb Today
Some protestants believe that you can find the tomb that Jesus rose from in Jerusalem's Old City at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Millions of people have visited the site, and in 2016, the tomb was opened for the first time (or rather, second if you believe in the resurrection) where scientists and religious authorities examined what was inside.
Ukrainian's Have Been Decorating Easter Eggs for Generations
Although there's much debate over how dying and decorating Easter eggs came to be, decorating them has been a generational folk practice in Ukraine. Called Pysanky, this practice involves artists using hollowed-out eggs and a kistka (a tool that presses wax lines onto the eggs). The wax prevents those parts from dying whatever color the egg is dipped into, and through dying and waxing multiple times, you can create incredible works of art.
People Used to Roll Eggs Instead of Hunt Them
While Central Europeans were hunting Easter eggs, northern English people were rolling theirs. At the end of the 18th century, little kids would roll their decorated eggs down hills for fun and competition. The practice was overshadowed by egg hunting, but there are still some Easter egg rolls going on today. The most publicized is the White House Easter Egg Roll that happens every year.
Wow Your Friends With These Fun Facts About Easter
Easter is a unique holiday because of how it's equally celebrated between religious and secular people alike. Yet, part of that is because of how many cultural touchstones are connected to Easter. These curious traditions have evolved over the years, but one thing remains the same: they make Eater weekend a time to look forward to.