What do you call a pastel colored basket filled with candy and toys? While this may sound like just a way to give children a sugar rush, it is actually a holiday tradition. In the United States, Easter is traditionally celebrated by giving children a bakery filled with candy and small toys. Easter, a Christian holiday, typically occurs during the end of March or April. The morning of, kids wake up to find their Easter basket filled with goodies. But this is not how the tradition began.
In the early days of the church, families would bring baskets filled with food to church on Easter Sunday for the priest to bless for them. After the meal was eaten and the baskets emptied, the children would use them to collect eggs they hunted, believes to be left by the Easter bunny. Easter baskets have root in pagan beliefs that the Anglo-Saxon goddess, Ostara, had a pet bird who would lay brightly colored eggs. She would perform of magic trick in front of children where she would turn her bird into a rabbit (who continued to lay eggs), thus creating the tradition of the Easter bunny. From the pagans, Christians adopted hunting for eggs as a sign of rebirth and the resurrection of Christ. In Germanic tradition Ostara was known as Eostre, the fertility goddess, to whom people brought baskets of early seedlings in the beginning of spring to increase the chance of a good harvest that season. Eostre was said to have carried a basket eggs, further signifying baskets of eggs as a sign of rebirth. German folklore also spoke of a Easter Hare, a white hare that would leave baskets filled with candy, eggs, and other treats for children on Easter morning. As German settlers moved to the United States, with them came this Easter tradition.
Nowadays, baskets can come in all shapes and sizes, filled with many different things depending on the family. Whether they are bought from the store or made at home, they bring fun to the house! For children, receiving a basket on Easter morning is something that they look forward to with anticipation and are just truly exhilarated when they get it. Like most holidays, there is an element of magic for the children and the Easter bunny dropping off a fun-filled basket is that element for the Easter holiday.
While traditionally adults do not receive baskets, but they can use the tradition of Easter baskets to decorate the home. Baskets are often used as a decorative storage piece so using one around Easter would not make much a difference. In order to make it a bit more related to the holiday and springtime as a whole, simply adding flowers, eggs, ribbons, stuffed bunnies, stuffed chicks, or other items that resonate with this time of year can make a huge difference. One small change of color or filling can radically alter the look of the piece, thus bringing a change to the whole room.
Other ways to style your home for Easter besides baskets are the usual ideas. Wreaths of course, kitchen salt and pepper shakers, towels, candle holders, pillows, really anything easy to add to or exchange with your everyday accents. And with the history of bright colors and specific motifs, decorating for Easter is even easier. Swapping a dark green blanket for a light, pastel green is a difference that can tie an entire room together.
Whether it be baskets or blankets, making a few small changes to the home is easy for Easter. Baskets are a historically symbolic, yet logistical, tradition of Easter that brings fun to not only the children, but also to the adults who get to see them open the baskets, hunt for Easter eggs, and enjoy their treasures. While they originated centuries ago, they have evolved to fit modern society.