Hi Joe! Welcome back to our weekly show, Culture Rendezvous. First of all, what is Easter and when is it celebrated?
Well, Easter is a Christian holiday and it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, his rising from the dead, basically coming back to life. It’s celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full Moon that occurs on or just after the spring equinox, which is the start of spring. This year, 2021, the spring equinox happened on Saturday, March 20 and the first full Moon occurred Sunday, March 28, so this year’s Easter is on April 4.
How do Americans celebrate Easter?
The way Americans celebrate Easter is very similar to most of Europe. Many churches hold special services on Easter Sunday. We have the Easter Bunny who gives candy and colored eggs to children and there’s the Easter egg hunt, which is the most popular event for children, it certainly was for me.
When I was a child, I received a lot of candy and eggs from the “Easter Bunny,” which of course was just my parents secretly hiding the eggs throughout my house or the yard. It was always a fun competition between me and my siblings to find the most eggs, and the candy was inside plastic eggs.
Please tell me more about the Easter Bunny?
Well, the exact origins of this mythical rabbit are unclear, but rabbits are known to be prolific procreators, they make a lot of babies, so this is probably why they’re an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. The idea of the Easter Bunny giving candies and eggs is said to have originated in Germany during the Middle Ages.
According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants. Interestingly, these children often left carrots out for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping around, similar to (leaving) cookies/milk for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
What is the history of eggs with Easter?
Well, Eggs were often associated with pagan festivals and celebrations of spring. A pagan is a person with religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions, in particular Christianity in the case of Europe during that time. For pagans, eggs were an ancient symbol of rebirth & new life, like the new life of spring after winter. For Christians, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ resurrection.
There are 2 popular games involving eggs:
Easter Egg Rolling: Have a starting line and a finishing line. Contestants must roll their eggs from one line to the next using a spoon or similar object to push the eggs. If a player touches their egg with their hand or breaks their egg, they are out of the race. The first person to get their egg across the finish line wins. To make it more challenging, sometimes they have to roll the eggs down a hill. There is an annual White House Easter Egg Roll contest in Washington D.C. where the President lives and works. The first one was actually was held in 1878.
Spoon Race: Have a starting line and a finishing line. Every person gets an egg and a large spoon. You put the egg on your spoon and you race, the first person to cross the finish line wins. But, if your egg falls off your spoon, you have to go back and start again.
You said earlier that the Easter Bunny gives a lot of candies, it seems to me that Americans eat a lot of candy and chocolate during Easter, don’t they?
Yes. Actually, Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in America after Halloween.
Most popular candies: number 1 is Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Eggs
Jelly beans: According to the National Confectioners Association, there are (over) 16 billion jelly beans are made in the US each year just for Easter.
Chocolate eggs: date back to early 19th century (in Europe).
Peeps: marshmallow-flavored, usually in the shape of chicks, (baby chickens) but for Easter, they’re bunnies.
Do Americans have a traditional dish on Easter?
The traditional food is Easter Ham, which is cooked in the oven, most often with a honey-mustard marinade. Potatoes and vegetables are very popular side dishes. Lamb is a very popular dish at Easter too. If Jesus did eat meat at the Last Supper, it would have been lamb. Jewish Passover traditions call for lamb, and so do most European traditions. But, in northern Europe, pigs were always important. The meat was salted and smoked to be ready to eat in the spring before fresh meats were available. This is especially true in North America where lamb was never an important meat.
How would you summarize Easter?
I’d say that Easter is for Christians and non-religious people. For some people it’s more of a serious/religious day, but for many it’s just about having fun with candy, games and the Easter Bunny.
Thank you very much for talking to us today about Easter. Hope to have you here with us again on VOV24/7 Culture Rendezvous with more interesting stories.