There are lots of ways to celebrate Easter, the most important and oldest festival of the Christian Church, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ and held between March 21 and April 25, on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the northern spring equinox.
Of course, a visit to church on Easter Sunday and participation in this annual event is the most meaningful.
People who have not darkened the doors of a church are likely to show up on Easter, requiring a few more pew spaces and even additional chairs in the aisles to accommodate the extra traffic.
You won’t find them in the Bible, but many cherished Easter traditions have been around for centuries.
The decoration of eggs is believed to date back to at least the 13th century, while the rite of the Easter parade has even older roots. Other traditions, such as the consumption of Easter candy, are among the modern additions to the celebration of this early springtime holiday.
Moms used to be decked out in flowers and bonnets on Easter Sunday, at least in my day. This is not as popular today, but colorful dresses and a flower of some type as a boutonniere or corsage on the lapel or wrist were standard then.
Either before or after church, an Easter egg hunt was organized for the children, also dressed in their Easter Sunday finest, with candy often substituted for eggs, collected in the baskets provided to the young for the occasion.
The focus was on finding as much of the goodies as possible and filling the basket, and there was always a special egg hidden somewhere with prizes inside it for the finder.
I also associate Easter with chocolate because of the ubiquitous chocolate bunnies available for purchase as gifts during the holiday. Large or small, the delicious treat containing oh so many calories had to be stricken from the diet after so many years of so much sugar.
If the camera on your iPhone is not working that day, you are in trouble, because photos of Easter Sundays fill the scrapbooks and memories of millions of households. Some of our most cherished memories are captured in photographs taken an the way to church on Easter Sunday morning.
And don’t forget the scrumptious Easter Sunday brunch, either, where Uncle Jack always ate so much and stomachs were groaning for days afterwards.
The long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to well-behaved children on Easter Sunday, the Easter bunny, has become a prominent symbol of Christianity’s most important holiday.
The exact origins of this mythical mammal are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life.
According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.”
Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests.
Additionally, children often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping.
If you are lucky enough to live near a city or town which has an Easter Parade, you are reaching back to the mid-19th century when it all got started in Manhattan, New York.
The upper crust of society would attend Easter services at various Fifth Avenue churches then stroll outside afterward, showing off their new spring outfits and hats. Average citizens started showing up along Fifth Avenue to check out the action.
The tradition reached its peak by the mid-20th century, and in 1948, the popular film "Easter Parade" was released, starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland and featuring the music of Irving Berlin.
The title song includes the lyrics: “In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it/You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.”
So, there you have it. A small collection of Easter memories to prepare you for the Easter holidays.
Of course, you don’t have to wait until Easter to make use of the traditions. Like I used to tell my daughter to calm her nerves whenever she was afraid or stressed over something, “Just think about the Easter Bunny.”
Alan Clark lives and writes in Estill Springs, Tennessee. For more of his columns, check out his podcasts on iTunes or in his latest book, “You Oughtta Know, Volume One 2017-2018,” published by Lakeway Publishers, Inc.