Good morning! I hope the Easter bunny was good to y’all this year. I woke up to dyed eggs, new clothes, and pretty baskets sitting by the fireplace. These Easter traditions are meaningful to me – especially as the girls get older.
Our parents and grandparents passed these traditions down to us. When I was little, I went to sunrise church service in the new dresses Mamaw picked out for me every year. After I moved to Wilmington, my mama threw family Easter egg hunts and served honey-baked ham afterward. Brandon had similar traditions at his house. He woke up to Easter baskets and had family dinner after church.
We’ve honored these customs in our home every year since the girls were born. Last night, I found myself wondering where these traditions came from. How did they make their way into so many North Carolina homes? So after I got everything set up, I did a little research. Here’s what I found out:
Easter Traditions In North Carolina
Dyeing Easter Eggs
The custom of dyeing Easter eggs stretches back to ancient pagans, who saw eggs as a symbol of birth. To celebrate spring, they colored eggs and gave them out as gifts.
The Easter Bunny & Easter Egg Hunts
According to legend, a poor German woman decorated eggs for her children to find. After the children found the hidden eggs, a rabbit was seen hopping away. The children believed it left behind the eggs for them.
The legend of the “Osterhase” dates back to the 1500s. It spread across Germany, giving rise to the Easter bunny and Easter egg hunts. Two hundred years later, German immigrants brought these practices to America.
Easter Baskets are born out of the German “Osterhase” tradition. To lure the egg-laying rabbit to their homes, German children made nests for “Osterhase.” These nests eventually evolved into the baskets we know today.
New Church Clothes
The tradition of wearing new clothes on Easter started with medieval Christians. On Easter Sunday, they wore new clothes to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus.
Easter ham can be traced to German pagan rituals honoring the goddess Eostre. The custom goes back to the 6th-century when hunters slaughtered hogs in the forest every fall. They cured the meat over winter, making pork one of the only meats available for the spring festivities.
Sunrise Church Services
In honor of Mary opening Jesus’s tomb at dawn on Easter morning, a German church held the first sunrise church service in 1732. By 1773 the tradition made its way here to America, when a similar sunrise service took place in Winston-Salem.
Easter Lilies became the informal flower of American Easter celebrations after World War I. To Christians, the white blossoms symbolize the purity of Christ.
Happy Easter, y’all!