The United States, like Spain, has its own traditions when it comes to celebrating Easter. Although each family celebrates it in a unique way, here we will tell you the most common traditions in the United States.
Easter is celebrated for its religious significance as well as its secular traditions. Most Christian religions observe Lent before Easter Sunday, where they set aside time for reflection and fasting as a tribute to the sacrifice and suffering of Jesus. Lent is then interrupted just before Easter Sunday, when church services and family gatherings take place.
The secular celebration of Easter in the United States is very different. Most families honor the return of spring with pastel Easter eggs, a visit from the Easter Bunny, Easter egg hunts and baskets filled with candy.
Easter is one of the most important dates on the Christian calendar, so you can expect almost every church in the country to hold special services during the spring season. Catholic churches usually offer the widest range of celebrations starting on Ash Wednesday, where the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are burned, and then the ashes are placed on the foreheads of the congregation to honor repentance. This event signifies the first day of Lent, a time when most of the congregation will fast or give up some modern convenience while reflecting on the sacrifice of Jesus.
On Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter and the last day of Lent), blessed palm leaves are given to the congregation at mass as a symbol of peace and triumph. Then comes Good Friday (the Friday before Easter), when the Catholic faithful usually pray or take communion at home as an act of reparation for the sins of Jesus. Then, a celebratory mass is held on Easter Sunday to honor his resurrection.
Religion aside, Easter in the United States is simply not Easter with egg hunts, parades and a visit from the Easter Bunny. In fact, most families observe both religious and secular traditions on and before this day. The festivities usually begin with the egg die-off the week or night before Easter Sunday, where hard-boiled eggs are dyed in pastel colors to represent spring. These same eggs are left out for the Easter Bunny on Saturday night to hide, as well as other plastic eggs filled with candy, around the family’s house or yard. When children wake up on Easter Sunday, they are excited to look for eggs, as well as Easter baskets filled with goodies.
Here are some of the most popular Easter events in the country:
- Easter in New York City The most famous Easter event in New York City (and one of the most famous in the country) is the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival, where thousands of people dressed in elaborate costumes and hats march along Fifth Avenue from 57th Street. Anyone is welcome to join the procession, but you can also watch it from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
- Easter in Washington DC: One of the most well-known Easter events in the country is the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, where children gather to roll Easter eggs on the White House lawn. The tradition began during the era of President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878 and has continued ever since.
- Easter in Los Angeles: Los Angeles County is home to several great egg hunts, including a scrambled egg hunt and a speed egg hunt at the Los Angeles County Arboretum. A traditional animal blessing, with dogs, cats and domestic farm animals blessed by the Archbishop of Los Angeles, takes place on Olvera Street in Los Angeles’ Little Mexico.
- Easter in New Orleans: Easter in New Orleans is not as lively as Mardi Gras, but the Christmas spirit remains the same. The annual Historic French Quarter Easter Parade is filled with colorful costumes and live music as it winds through Jackson Square, skirting St. Paul’s Cathedral. Louis, which offers services throughout the day.
- Easter in Chicago: Chicago has one of the highest populations of Easter observers in the country and many festive events. The Great Chicago Egg Hunt – featuring 25,000 eggs – takes place in Maggie Daley Park, and a delicious Easter brunch is served at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
- Easter in Orlando: home of Walt Disney World, Orlando is a mecca for holiday revelers of all ages. Disney World hosts an Easter Bunny (and Mrs. Bunny) meet-and-greet at Magic Kingdom, a themed parade, a plethora of brunch buffets and egg displays at the hotels. In addition, Disney World’s Epcot Center holds its annual International Flower and Garden Festival throughout the spring, which includes many Easter activities for children.