Easter Baskets Then and Now
It's hard to imagine an Easter celebration without Easter baskets. These festive keepsakes, brimming with sweet indulgences and seasonal surprises, are an inseparable part of the holiday, appreciated by children and adults alike. They are the centerpieces of many gatherings and the vehicles for passing down Easter traditions from generation to generation. But Easter baskets as we know them today are a far cry from their centuries-old origin.
Ancient cultures were bound more closely to the cycle of the seasons than much of the world is today. Their lives were dependent on nature's timetable. The arrival of spring ushered in a new planting season, and so was a time of high hopes for favorable growing conditions that would lead to a bountiful harvest. To secure blessings from the gods for a fruitful year, farmers packed seedlings from their first crops into baskets and presented at temples for offering and prayer.
Baskets became linked specifically with Easter during the Middle Ages. Medieval Catholics celebrated the end of Lent, the 40 days preceding Easter Sunday, by feasting on large meals that they first toted to church in baskets to receive a priest's blessings. Then, as now, Lent was a period of abstinence from particular foods or vices. The celebratory baskets, packed with previously off-limits foods, eventually became the Easter baskets that we enjoy today.
As for the ubiquitous rabbits and eggs that so often fill today's Easter baskets, their associations with the holiday have multiple origin stories. Some sources posit that rabbits became the embodiment of springtime because for pagan cultures they symbolized fertility. Rabbits were also the purveyors of eggs in German folklore. The tradition of awaiting the arrival of an egg-delivering hare was transported to the United States in the 1700s by immigrants, eventually morphing into today's Easter bunny.
Eggs may have become prized during the Easter holiday because they were an off-limits food for observers of Lent. The freedom to eat them again after Lent ended may have given eggs special significance on Easter Sunday. Then again, eggs may also have become connected with Easter because historically they have been symbols of new life.
From this tangle of traditions and beliefs, we arrived at the modern Easter basket. No longer filled with the makings of a late-day feast, they are beautifully adorned gifts we share with our friends and families to convey our affections and share our beloved celebratory traditions. The anticipation and wonder you felt as a child when it came to receiving your annual Easter basket. The looks on the faces of the children in your life when they held their first Easter egg. The appreciation your mother expressed when you presented her with a grown-up version that catered to her penchant for cookies. All of these memories are bound up in and revisited each year with the giving of a new Easter basket.
For your celebration, keep the memories flowing by presenting your loved ones with carefully-crafted Easter baskets of the season's most-desired treats. From our aptly-named Easter Feast packed with confections of every flavor and texture to our whimsical Easter Bunny Tower of nostalgic candies, there is a basket to fit the sensibilities of everyone in your life. Your loved ones will appreciate the time and care you took in selecting the perfect Easter basket for them.