Although Easter is the most important festival in the Christian calendar, many of its traditions have clearly pagan roots.

Pagan Anglo-Saxons believed that the goddess Eostre would pelt them with rotten eggs unless a certain number of hard-boiled eggs with ritual patterns were left at various places in the fields and forests.

German immigrants to the United States brought with them the ancient custom of protecting the spring hatchlings from evil spirits by offering the demons chicks molded out of colored marshmallow as substitutes. It is a nearly universal feature of folklore that demons are believed to be rather dim-witted.

In the Piedmont region of Italy, villagers spend Holy Week baking hard buns or rolls twisted into the shapes of members of the House of Savoy. On Easter morning, they fling the buns at the carabinieri. It is traditional for the participants to be released from jail by Pentecost.

The custom of biting the heads off chocolate rabbits at Easter may be traced back to an Aztec springtime ritual intended to bring victory in battle.

In city neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, homeowners make a colorful Easter display by lynching inflatable pastel bunnies in a tree in the front yard, a custom that anthropologists believe has its roots in a pagan infertility ritual.

In rural Sweden, the Easter Lemming brings children gifts of pickled herring, which they pile up in the closet alongside all the other jars of pickled herring that they never ate from past years.


  1. RepubAnon says:

    And here I always thought demons routinely appeared in the shape of chicks formed from some inedible colored marshmallow-like substance…

  2. True story: the day before easter this year, while clearing away a Chicago Winter’s worth of leaves and twigs and other planty debris from my garden, I found a remarkably complete and articulated rabbit skeleton buried in a pile of leaves. So not only is the Easter Bunny dead, but I found the body. Possibly yet another victim of what’s shaping up to be a violent spring here in Murder City USA.

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