The history of Easter baskets is filled with tradition. Premade Easter baskets leave more time for finding Easter eggs and a chocolate bunny.
Easter is a cherished religious holiday that holds significant meaning beyond simply serving up your best Easter ham and all the trimmings. Very early Christians used decorated and painted eggs to symbolize religious teachings which have been carried through to modern times. In other faiths, eggs symbolize the start of a new life with events timed with the start of spring.
Colored Easter eggs are linked to the tradition of giving decorated eggs for friendship, love and good wishes. Easter “egg rolls” down steep hills or across lawns (like at the White House) and egg hunts have all been popularized and are fun for children.
While there is no specific religious reference to the Easter bunny, rabbits have been symbols of fertility and new life for centuries.
To learn more about Easter traditions, check out these videos at history.com.
History of Easter Baskets
There are many references to German immigrants in the U.S. bringing their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” who laid its colored eggs in nests made by children. Eventually colorful Easter baskets replaced the nests, and candy replaced fresh carrots set out for the mythical rabbit to eat.
As traditions evolved, candy, such as jelly beans—which are roughly egg-shaped—became synonymous with Easter. (The history of jelly beans is another story entirely.) In fact, U.S. sales of Easter candy are a close second to those of Halloween.
In the 1800s, European chocolate makers began crafting chocolate eggs for the Easter holiday. The trend soon made its way to American candy makers who further expanded the range of confections that, by the turn of the century, included rabbits, chickens and other novelties to meet the demand. Candy corn, today associated with Halloween, was first introduced for Easter in the 1880s and featured prominently in Easter baskets.
Chocolate Bunny Rabbits
Solid chocolate rabbits gave way to hollow bunnies because of cocoa rationing during WWII. It’s a special treat for children to receive a delicious light, dark or white chocolate bunny in an Easter basket. It’s so revered that there are national polls to track how people like to eat their chocolate rabbits, as seen here in this foodimentary.com article.
Easter candy continues to evolve as quickly as new ideas are developed. It’s fun to decorate a spring or Easter brunch table with clever confections like rolled cakes, petits fours, hand-decorated chocolates and festive candies. Just be sure to save the sharing of the sweets until after the Easter ham has been served, so you don’t spoil any young appetites.
Kids of all ages love to hunt for a big basket full of sweet treats and see if they can spy the cherished Easter Bunny as they hunt for Easter eggs dressed in their Sunday best.
Premade Easter Baskets…and How to Make Your Own
The best food gift baskets are filled with treats that you know the gift recipient will love. Milk or dark chocolate? Jelly beans or candy corn? Do they like baby chicks, rabbits or lambs? Once you know chocolate and candy preferences, then you can find other small gifts to complete a basket. Stuffed animals are always a cute addition, along with Easter-themed games like word searches and coloring books for little ones, and spring colored jewelry or fun-in-the-sun games for kids to play outside as spring weather allows.
Baskets of all shapes, colors and sizes are available at craft stores and can be filled with plastic or paper “grass” and topped with all the aforementioned candy and gifts. And of course, if you’re running short on time or just aren’t that “crafty”, some companies offer premade Easter baskets for kids on your list. Choose one that’s colorful, maybe with a plush toy and preferably with a real chocolate bunny, and have it delivered for you. It couldn’t be easier!
Hide the basket well so there is enough excitement in the hunt, but don’t make it too hard to find. Everyone loves to hear squeals of delight when the Easter basket is found!