Easter 2021 takes place Sunday, April 4. This widely celebrated holiday is best known for its family-friendly, candy-centric traditions and for its religious significance.
But a lot of people don’t know how Easter actually became a holiday, or where its trademark bunnies and eggs came from.
In this post, we take a look at the dates for Easter 2021, the origins of Easter, some of the traditions and a few fun facts on Easter Eggs and the Easter Bunny.
When is Easter in 2021?
Here are the dates for Easter in 2021:
- April 2 – Good Friday
- April 3 – Holy Saturday
- April 4 – Easter Sunday
- April 5 – Easter Monday
How is the date of Easter determined?
Easter always lands on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.
Origins of Easter
Easter is known as a celebration of the resurrection of Christ.
However, the New Testament doesn’t say what time of year that happened.
Because the spring equinox has long symbolized the beginning of spring, it was a time of celebration before Christianity put its stamp on the holiday.
But celebrating the resurrection (or rebirth) or Christ at the onset of spring made sense.
It’s a time of blossoming and the earth waking up again after a long winter.
With winter coming to a close and spring around the bend, people took to the outdoors to celebrate.
In the past, celebrations meant a mixture of religious festivals and, usually, heavy drinking and revelry.
What we know as Easter today is actually a blend of Christian and pagan elements, melded over time.
Around the 19th century, Easter became more known as a family holiday, which is why the holiday now has become associated with Easter egg hunts, bunnies, and candy – all things kids love.
Why is Easter called Easter?
The term “Easter” has roots in a pre-Christian English goddess, Eostre, who was celebrated at the beginning of spring.
Origins of the Easter Egg
Decorating eggs to celebrate the spring equinox has been around since Medieval Times.
They were part of the Eostre celebration that predates Christian Easter.
At the time, eggs were eaten at festivals and burried underground to bring about fertility.
They were also often eaten during Lent, when rules about fasting were stricter and eating animal products was prohibited.
People would hard-boil all the eggs their chickens laid during Lent to help preserve them until they could be eaten.
Starting in the 13th century, people decorated eggs with silver and dyes to give as church offerings or gifts to their landlords.
Finally, in the late 19th century, the association shifted to an activity for kids.
This happened about the same time Easter traditions changed to be more kid- and family-friendly.
The family-minded Victorians loved putting their own spin on old traditions, so it made sense to make the transition to a children’s activity.
Origins of the Easter Bunny
Hares and rabbits have been associated with spring rituals for a long time, thanks to their incredible fertility and ability to multiply in astonishing numbers.
17th century Germans coined the idea of an “Easter hare,” a Santa-like figure who brought eggs to good children.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, German immigrants who settled in the United States brought this idea with them. The idea spread from there.
In keeping with the wider trend of shifting Easter to a holiday that centered around solemn church celebrations and drunken revelry, the Easter hare shifted from being a wild hare to a cute, fluffy bunny to make it more appealing to children.
The Easter Bunny apparently lives on Easter Island - a remote Southeaster Pacific Ocean island which was discovered by Dutch Explorer Jacob Roggeveen on Easter Sunday in 1722.
On the eve of Easter Sunday, the Easter Bunny travels from Easter Island to deliver Easter eggs and candy to kids around the world.
Typical Traditions and Activities
Dyeing Easter Eggs
Anyone familiar with Easter immediately thinks of dyeing and decorating Easter eggs.
This time-honored tradition is a great way to celebrate the history of Easter while having a little fun.
Hollow Chocolate Bunnies
Easter is a big day for candy, but especially chocolate bunnies and egg-shaped candies.
Whether you’re winning them in an Easter egg hunt or snacking throughout the day, you’re sure to find plenty of sugary treats no matter where you go.
Easter Egg Hunts
Easter egg hunts are generally a kid-friendly activity that can be fun for the whole family.
Adults usually hide eggs (real hard-boiled ones or, more often, plastic eggs with candy inside) for the kids to find.
Baskets for the Easter Bunny
Easter baskets were originally Easter nests – which explains the ubiquitous colorful plastic grass that usually goes inside them.
Originally, kids made nests to encourage the Easter bunny to come and lay eggs in them.
Over time, the eggs evolved into baskets but the idea is still the same.
There’s an old superstition that says wearing new clothes on Easter will give you good luck for the rest of the year.
And there’s certainly something to be said for wearing something new on a holiday dedicated to rebirth and renewal.
But it’s also just a great excuse to go shopping. This is especially prevalent if you’re attending an Easter church service. Expect to see congregants serving brand-new pastel looks.
Easter Church Service
For many, Easter is still predominantly a religious holiday. Many congregations hold special church services to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
Quintessential Easter Foods
Like a lot of Easter traditions, this quintessential main course has roots in pagan Eostre springtime celebrations.
Ham became the choice protein for Easter because of practical reasons. Farmers slaughtered their pig stock during the fall and the meat was cured throughout the winter season.
Once spring rolled around and the fasting for Lent ended, ham was ready to be consumed for the celebrations.
Hot Cross Buns
These sweet rolls are filled with raisins or currants and marked with a cross on top.
It’s thought that this custom started in the 12th century when a monk crossed his rolls to commemorate Good Friday. Today, they’re mostly just tasty.
Significant Easter Celebrations Around the World
Osterbrunnen is the Germain tradition of decorating public fountains and well with greenery and Easter eggs.
This relatively new tradition began as a way to celebrate Easter and water, both of which signify renewal and life.
Nearby villages competed to see who could decorate their fountains best.
It’s even spread across the Atlantic Ocean – the Bavarian-style town Frankenmuth, Michigan, adopted the tradition as well.
Easter 2021 Ideas
There’s a ton of history involved in Easter that a lot of people don’t know about.
Use these fun facts to wow your family around Easter dinner or incorporate a few lesser-known traditions into your Easter celebrations to ring in springtime.
If you have some leftover Easter chocolate, check out my Leftover Easter Chocolate Mousse Tart Recipe.