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Easter Traditions in the USA v UK


Easter is a Christian celebration recognised around the world, which rejoices in the re birth of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion on ‘Good Friday’. Every country has their own interpretation of this festival, American celebrations have some similarities and differences to those of the United Kingdom.

Easter has Pagan origins, celebrating the arrival of spring, and return of fertility, Pagans would ‘hunt for eggs’ to eat. The Easter Bunny’ was originally the ‘Easter Hare’ (due to the multiple births) and they would celebrate’ fertility’ with symbols such lambs and chicks.


Easter Sunday Dinner

How do the traditions of the past translate to our customs here in the UK and in The United States? Like Christmas, Easter has many associations with food. In the UK on Easter Sunday families will sit down to a succulent roast lamb dinner stuffed with herbs, Jersey Royals, and the traditional condiment mint sauce. Other foods associated with Easter are hot cross buns, Siminal cake and Easter Biscuits, rich and indulgent food that is forbidden during the previous 40 days of Lent. Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, they are marked with a cross. Eaten by the Saxons to honour the goddess Eostre, and the bun represented the moon in its four quarters. Christians then adopted this treat to represent the Crucifixion. The Siminal Cake is a rich fruit cake with a marzipan topping and 11 balls of marzipan on top each one representing each of Jesus’s disciples with the exception of Judas. In America the Easter can be similar to however a glazed ham and seasonal vegetables are also a popular choice and good for feeding a crowd!


Easter Parade

In the UK, Easter is a comparatively a low key affair compared to America. In New Orleans, the is an annual Easter Carnival called ‘Madi Gras’, which features lots family fun activities like jazz music, costumes and a huge party. The New York Easter Parade is a tradition that dates back to the middle of the1800s. Elite society would attend the parade their new fashions. The less ‘well to do’ would come and see the lasts trends, which would then be copied. Present day the fashion is now more of a spectacular event. Live birds’ nests are used or bonnets of real flowers, even pets are dressed in the lasts doggy wear! See flamboyant headwear and costumes for a truly unique event. In the UK, the Easter Bonnet parade’, is usually left to the school children as well as other spring time activities such as dancing the ‘May Pole.’ In our capital city London, the ‘Passion of Christ’ is re-enacted, volunteers watch the Easter Story, each year drawing crowds in their thousands.


Chocolate Traditions

A must-play game for American children is the Easter Egg Roll, this a tradition taken from the Pennsylvania Dutch settlers who would dye their eggs is a variety of designs at Easter time. Dying eggs can also be also traced back to ancient civilisations that would dye eggs for Spring Festivals. Painting the Easter Eggs and conducting Easter Egg Hunts is a big part of the celebrations for American families. A UK resident Amy Ainscough recalls her childhood growing up in California, ‘children reuse the same Easter Basket their whole lives, in the morning they will find that it has been filled with fake grass, candies and small chocolate eggs.’’ These small treats left by the Easter Bunny are given in the morning, the weather this time of year in America is too hot to have chocolates outside. Depending on the region church is still the forefront of Easter Sunday morning, followed by an outdoor lunch or BBQ. The basket would be emptied in the afternoon ready for the Easter Egg Hunt. A product called PAAS is applied to hardboiled eggs that are then painted and then used in the hunt. Easter is very much a family-themed event, have a family photograph with the Easter Bunny taken in front of a painted Easter Scene at any shopping mall. There are a lot of commercial opportunity behind this tradition in the US. It is the European influence of companies such as Lindt Chocolatiers who have introduced foiled eggs and rabbits in the past thirty years. The book the ‘Egg Tree’ by Katherine Milhous was credited with popularising the custom of the egg tree decorating in the USA, originally a German tradition.


Egg Rolling

Egg Rolling was first introduced to Americans by Dolly Madison, the wife of the fourth President, who organised an egg roll in Washington, DC. She had been told that Egyptian children used to roll eggs down the Pyramids, and so invited children to roll eggs down Capitol Hill. The event has grown and today Easter Monday is the only date in the year that tourist can wonder on the White House Lawn. However, adults are allowed but only in the company of children!! Egg rolling is also very popular in the UK, especially in the North of England and Scotland.


** QUIZ TIME! **

1. The concept of the Easter Bunny originated in Germany during the 1700s, but the mythical creature wasn’t a rabbit initially. What was it?

A. Cat

D. Dog

C. Kangaroo

D. Hare


2. Hunting and rolling eggs are popular Easter traditions. The first official White House egg roll occurred in 1878. Who was president at the time?

A. Rutherford B. Hayes

B. James A. Garfield

C. Ulysses S. Grant

D. Andrew Johnson


3. The Bible says Jesus rose from the dead on the first Sunday following the Jewish feast of ______.

A. Plenty

B. Passover

C. Saints

D. Sharing


4. To whom did Jesus first appear after his resurrection, according to Biblical accounts?

A. Doubting Thomas

B. Martha

C. His mother, Mary

D. Mary Magdalene


5. Historically, with what profession is the Easter basket associated?

A. Shepherd

B. Tax collector

C. Farmer

D. Juggler


6. Lent, a period of fasting, self-denial and repentance, occurs the 40 days prior to Easter (from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, minus the six Sundays during that time). What does the number 40 represent?

A. The number of days Jesus was in prison before his death on the cross.

B. Jesus’ age when he was crucified.

C. The number of days Jesus fasted in the wilderness.

D. The 40 years the Israelites spent in the desert.


7. The most popular chocolate egg worldwide is the Cadbury Creme Egg. Approximately how many are produced each year?

A. 50 million

B. 100 million

C. 300 million

D. 500 million


8. Easter and church holidays leading up to that day, such as Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Good Friday, are sometimes referred to as what type of feasts?

A. Loveable

B. Portable

C. Moveable

D. Malleable


9. Americans purchase more than 700 million marshmallow Peeps during the Easter season. What is the most popular color?

A. Pink

B. Lavender

C. Yellow

D. Blue


10. Most of the bigger holidays (and even some of the smaller ones) have an animated special starring the Peanuts gang. What is the name of the Peanuts Easter special?

A. “It’s Easter, Charlie Brown”

B. “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown”

C. “A Charlie Brown Easter”

D. “You’re a Good Egg, Charlie Brown”


11. Which member of the Rat Pack starred with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in “Easter Parade,” the 1948 movie musical?

A. Frank Sinatra

B. Dean Martin

C. Peter Lawford

D. Sammy Davis Jr.


12. Which of these famous singers recorded “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” in 1950? Hint: He also sang “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

A. Bing Crosby

B. Gene Autry

C. Dean Martin

D. Perry Como


13. Americans consume approximately 16 billion jelly beans at Easter, many of them contained in plastic eggs. What is the most popular jelly bean flavor?

A. Cherry

B. Grape

C. Strawberry

D. Lemon


14. The resurrection story appears in all four gospels of the New Testament of the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke and _______ .

A. James

B. John

C. Joseph

D. Jesus


15. In Christianity, why is the Sunday before the resurrection called Palm Sunday?

A. The wood for Jesus’ cross was made from palm trees.

B. When Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, his followers waved and covered the road in palm leaves.

C. It is a reference to the scars on Jesus’ palms after he was crucified.

D. Jesus wore palm leaves on his garments the day of the crucifixion.



1. D, Hare. While both the rabbit and the hare belong to the Lagomorpha order of mammals, they are different creatures. For starters, hares typically have longer, stronger hind legs.

2. A, Rutherford B. Hayes. The egg is associated with Easter because of pagan festivals celebrating spring, and because many Christians view the egg as symbolic of Jesus’ resurrection and emergence from the tomb.

3. B, Passover. Typically celebrated before Easter, Passover commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery.

4. D, Mary Magdalene. The Gospel of Mathew (NIV) also refers to “the other Mary” seeing Jesus at the same time as Mary Magdalene, but the other Mary is not the mother of Jesus.

5. C, Farmer. Ancient farmers would take baskets of seedlings to temples to celebrate spring and pray to the various gods for fertile fields.

7. D, 500 million. About two-thirds of those are consumed in the U.K.

6. C, The number of days Jesus fasted in the wilderness. According to the Bible, Jesus fasted 40 days and nights in the Judean Desert after his baptism, all the while staving off temptation by Satan.

8. C, Moveable. This is because Easter can fall on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25. According to, Easter is observed on the “first Sunday after the ‘Pascal Full Moon’ (the first full moon of spring) following the spring equinox.”

9. C, Yellow. Produced by the Just Born candy company, Peeps are made from sugar, corn syrup, gelatin and various food dyes. Baby chicks followed by bunnies are the most popular shapes.

10. B, “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown.” Less beloved than such perennial classics as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown,” the Peanuts Easter special co-opted the plot of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” with Linus anxiously waiting for the Easter Beagle to distribute painted eggs.

11. C, Peter Lawford. He performs “A Fella With an Umbrella” with Garland.

12. B, Gene Autry. Composed in 1949 by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins, “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” was first recorded by Mervin Shiner, but Autry’s version is more ubiquitous.

13. A, Cherry. If you lined up all the Easter jelly beans end to end, they would circle the globe almost three times.

14. B, John. Those who grew up in church and had to memorize the “Books of the Bible Song” likely got this one right: “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Acts and the Letters to the Romans … .”

15. B, When Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, the Bible says, his followers covered the road in palm leaves. According to Scripture, they also spread their garments on the road.


How many did you get right? Tweet us your answers on Twitter and we’ll feature you on our page. @EasirentCarHire or find us using #Easirent. If you’re hiring a car this Easter, to help you visit loved ones or transport more eggs(!) then go to our homepage for an egg-cellent offer on Easter Car Hire!

Have a Happy Easter!

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