Wednesday, April 16, 2014
The Easter Basket Tradition
I love making Easter baskets—small, exquisite works of art. Crochet is my go-to craft, but I’ve also made baskets of starched and glued strips of paper and cloth, woven twigs like a bird’s nest. Even macramé. Remember that? But whether big surprises for children on Easter morning or small decorative things, all must be stuffed with plastic grass and contain colored hen or candy eggs along with hidden treats and treasures.
But where did the Easter basket come from? According to Wikipedia, it came out of both religious and pagan customs. The modern Easter basket grew out of the Lenten custom of breaking the forty-six day fast with a large feast. Families would bring items for the feast in a large basket. These baskets were blessed by the clergy, probably in keeping with the rites of ancient Hebrews who brought their first seedlings to the temple to be blessed.
The Germans are credited with the story of the Easter Bunny carrying a basket of eggs. When they immigrated to the United States they brought the tradition with them.
Dutch tradition also influenced the practice of children carrying egg filled baskets. Dutch children first carried their eggs in bird’s nests on Easter morning. In time, someone noticed it would be easier to carry the eggs in a grass lined basket with a handle.
One of the modern customs I like is sending baskets to relatives or friends as a remembrance of the day. I’ve also heard of a fun way to celebrate that’s a type of reverse to trick-or-treating. Children take candy filled baskets and hang them on the door knobs of neighbors. They ring the doorbell and run. This is also reminiscent of the May basket where sweethearts leave a basket at the door of their love interests. A message of affection is hidden among the flowers.
My favorite way to use the Easter basket was through my church’s secret friend program. We would leave the baskets on the friends’ cars so they would find them after Easter services. Under the jelly beans, hidden in the grass were wrapped chocolates or trinkets along with a Scripture verse having some special meaning for that friend.
The eggs carried in the Easter basket are a symbol of life, but those verses reminded us there is no better symbol of life than a risen Savior.
What is your favorite Easter tradition?
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