15 historical photos show Easter celebrations around the world
Giant rabbits sneakily hiding eggs for giddy little children to find. Catholic patrons in pointy white hoods. Church ladies in big fancy hats and churched and unchurched Christians alike breaking out their Sunday Best.
The Easter holiday, also known as Resurrection Sunday, is a Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his death by crucifixion at the hands of the Romans.
For many of the Christian faith, Easter is even more central to their belief than Christmas. While the winter holiday celebrates Christ’s birth, Easter hinges on the notion that Jesus died for humanity’s sins and rose from the dead.
Easter is celebrated across the Christian world in various ways. In the Western world, many celebrate the holiday by dying eggs and holding Easter Egg hunts – a tradition that seems to have come from European immigrants to America, who would dye the eggs red to symbolize the blood of Jesus and give them to good children. There are early morning church services and various displays of pomp, passion and praise to illuminate the final act of The Passion of the Christ, illustrating Jesus’s persecution, execution and resurrection.
Chocolate has become central to the American celebration, with milk chocolate cast in the shape of eggs or bunny rabbits. Older traditions included treats like “hot cross buns.” Some observe the holiday by symbolically carrying ornate crosses, while others don medieval costumes including pointed, hooded masks.
As is often the case in America, the holiday has taken on as much of a capitalist bent as a religious one. For weeks leading up to the holiday, television commercials advertise for Cadbury Crème Eggs and other Easter treats. Chain stores take on a decidedly pastel hue as candy bunnies and chocolate eggs burst from the aisles. Even New York City’s Radio Music Hall has gotten in on the action, with their famous Rockettes having donned fuzzy bunny ears over the years.
The celebration of the Easter Holiday and its many indulgences is also recognized annually by the President of the United States with a traditional “Easter Egg Roll” at the White House.
On Monday, President Obama and the First Family will host the 137th White House Easter Egg Roll, in which children and their families will play games including rolling hard-boiled eggs. The lucky participants will receive a decorative souvenir egg.
The White House Easter Egg Roll is one of the oldest annual events on the American political calendar in Washington, D.C., with the first Egg Roll hosted by President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife, Lucy, in 1878.