If Halloween is the holiday which celebrates the autumn season, and all the spooky associations that the end of the year, the shortening of the days, and the withering of summer’s life has, then Easter is in many ways its opposite. Celebrating the fresh life and brightness of Spring, Easter is a cheerful holiday, which most people think of in terms of colorful flowers, chocolates, brilliantly-colored Easter eggs, and, of course, that light-hearted icon of life’s renewal, the Easter Bunny.
Whether Americans are religious or secular, there are a lot of traditions that many families observe when Easter arrives. Making Easter eggs is one of the most popular traditions, and the one most recognizable. There’s no doubt that a colorful Easter egg, decorated in red, yellow, white, blue, black, and other vibrant colors in stripes, dots, and zig-zags, is a beautiful object and is a cheerful symbol of the time. Some people make their own Easter eggs, dyeing or painting actual eggs or egg-shaped forms bought from hobby and craft shops. This can be a lot of fun if everyone participates, and the eggs look great to those who made them, even if they wouldn’t win a beauty contest against a Faberge egg.
Alternately, many people buy pre-painted plastic Easter eggs. Many of these can be opened so they can be filled with chocolates and other treats, for the Easter egg hunt that often follows the painting or viewing of the eggs. The trade-off, of course, is that the eggs aren’t as unique as those you’ve made yourself.
Easter Egg hunts are an eagerly-awaited part of Springtime fun for many kids across America. Lots of families stage their own Easter egg hunts, with parents hiding eggs in every nook and cranny of the yard and house, and their children then enjoying a playful Easter Sunday searching for the colorful eggs. There are also official Easter egg hunts, of which the egg hunt at the White House is only the most famous. Schools, local governments, and churches all organize egg hunts for kids of various ages.
Americans also engage in Easter egg rolls — again, the White House’s is the most famous but not the only one. An egg roll is a fun competition where kids roll eggs over a lawn using long-handled spoons, sticks, or whatever other implement seems most useful for it. The federal edition of the event includes people dressed as the Easter Bunny and many speeches as well.
Special food is also used to mark the Easter holiday by Americans. Hot cross buns are a perennial favorite because of the cross symbol that is associated with Jesus and His resurrection, but there is also a traditional dish made out of baked ham, vegetables, and potatoes.
Since Easter is a major Christian holiday, many people attend dawn services specially arranged on Easter Sunday morning. At the opposite end of the scale from the spiritual, the sensual extravaganza of Mardi Gras is held during the Easter season in New Orleans and other American cities.
The Easter Bunny is this season’s equivalent of Santa Claus — a good-natured rabbit who, in folklore and legend, lays colorful eggs to symbolize fertility and rebirth. The Easter Bunny is a pagan symbol from antiquity — the hare of the goddess Eostre — but has become a fluffy, amusing mascot for the year’s most lighthearted, cheerful holiday.