Christian Tradition and the History of Easter Baskets

For centuries Easter baskets have played an integral part in the Easter tradition of the Christian faith.  The history of Easter baskets began with the Catholic religion in the early days of the Church.  As Catholicism spread throughout Europe families would take baskets to the church on the day designated as Easter Sunday.  They would be filled with food to be blessed by the priests for the evening meal.  The practice was common throughout all of Europe as the Easter tradition took root.  This was the first introduction of a basket into the holiday celebrating the resurrection of Christ, as practiced among Catholics and Protestants.

Easter baskets evolved into their present day role over several centuries as children began to hunt brightly colored Easter eggs.  Later the Easter bunny became a part of the present Christian tradition often bringing gift baskets filled with painted, now colorfully dyed, eggs.  Today as we know children throughout the world look forward to awakening on Easter Sunday to discover baskets filled with candy eggs and chocolate bunnies.

The story of the Easter bunny, Easter eggs, and Easter baskets began in pagan Anglo-Saxon times.  It was said that an Anglo-Saxon goddess, Ostara, owned a beautiful bird that laid brightly colored eggs.  The eggs in early times and today represent new life and rebirth.  To the amazement of children Ostara performed a magic trick, changing her pet bird into a rabbit, the birth of the Easter bunny into tradition.  Christians adopted the pagan tradition of hunting for eggs to symbolize the resurrection of Christ and a sign of rebirth.

The bunny magically transformed from  Ostara’s pet bird continued to lay brightly colored eggs, just as it had before its transformation.  As time passed, the story of the Easter bunny laying brightly colored eggs during the spring equinox was adopted by the masses.  Today, without question, many young children look forward to the celebration of the holiday known to them as the day they hunt brilliantly colored eggs laid by an imaginary rabbit.  The hunt for brilliantly colored Easter eggs became a part of the Easter celebration, as children began to search for eggs in tall grassy areas filling their baskets.

In the earliest of times, after the food that filled the baskets was blessed by the church, the food consumed at home by the family, the children would take the emptied baskets and gather to search for eggs believed to be laid by the Easter bunny.  What began as a utilitarian use for the baskets became a tradition of fun and eager searching by young children.

Today Easter baskets, filled with eggs and chocolate goodies and special treats, continue to be the highlight of Easter for many youngsters.    Over the years Easter baskets have been transformed from plain handmade wicker baskets into the variety of Easter baskets available today.

Whether the bunny brings an Easter basket already filled with goodies or children are given an empty basket to fill during an Easter egg hunt, there is little that marks the beginning of Spring and the Resurrection of Jesus, the rebirth of life, as significantly as a child carrying his or her Easter basket on Easter Sunday.

As with many holidays celebrated in the Christian tradition today, the origins can be traced back to the days of paganism. The Christians continued many of the earlier traditions, bringing them in part or in whole into today’s religious experiences.


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