Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in America after Halloween. Among the most popular sweet treats associated with this day are chocolate eggs, which date back to early 19th century
Europe. Eggs have long been associated with Easter as a symbol of new life and Jesus’
resurrection. Another egg-shaped candy, the jelly bean, became
associated with Easter in the 1930s (although the jelly bean’s origins
reportedly date all the way back to a Biblical-era concoction called a Turkish Delight).
According to the
National Confectioners Association, over 16
billion jelly beans are made in the U.S. each year for Easter, enough to fill a giant egg measuring 89 feet high and 60 feet wide. For the past decade, the top-selling non-chocolate Easter candy has been the marshmallow Peep, a sugary, pastel-colored confection. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based
candy manufacturer Just Born (founded by
Russian immigrant Sam Born in 1923) began selling Peeps in the 1950s. The original Peeps were handmade, marshmallow-flavored yellow chicks, but other shapes and flavors were later introduced, including chocolate mousse bunnies.
Symbols and Tradition
The Bible makes no mention of a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to well-behaved children on Easter Sunday; nevertheless, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity’s most important holiday. The exact origins of this mythical mammal are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life.
According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests. Additionally, children often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping.
(Courtesy of History.com)
Easter is a religious holiday, but some of its customs, such as Easter eggs, are likely linked to pagan traditions. The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection. Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century, according to some sources. One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration.
White Easter Lilies symbolize the purity of Christ to Christians and are common decorations in churches and homes around the Easter holiday. Their growth from dormant bulbs in the ground to flowers symbolize the rebirth and hope of Christ’s resurrection. Lilies are native to Japan and were brought to England in 1777, but wound their way to the U.S. in the wake of World War I. They went on to become the unofficial flower of Easter celebrations across the United States.
What’s in a Basket?
So where exactly did the tradition of Easter Baskets begin?
The answer dates to Anglo-Saxon folklore. Historians believe that the word “Easter”
derives from “Eostre,” the pagan goddess of spring and fertility. Drawings of Eostre often depict her holding a woven basket on her arm. Eggs, which have been
considered a sign of new life in many cultures, were
eaten and even buried as part of the Eostre festival.
The hare or the rabbit also is a symbol of fertility in Western culture. By the early 17th century, some
German parents began telling their children stories of the Osterhase (Easter Hare) delivering colored eggs to the baskets of well-behaved children. As part of this
tradition, children left small nests or baskets lined with grasses to look like nests left outside overnight for the Osterhase.
Easter Service & Church Directory
Libby Assembly of God—
Services begin at 10 a.m. Sunday school at 9 a.m.
Libby Baptist Church—
Easter Brunch at 9:45 a.m. Church services at 11 a.m.
Troy Christian Fellowship—
Service with snacks and drinks, Saturday, April 3, at 6 p.m.
Easter Sunday Service at 10 a.m. followed by pot luck dinner.
Faith Bible Church, Libby —
Sunrise Service at 9 a.m. Easter service is at 11 a.m.
Libby Christian Church—
Egg Hunt to be held on Saturday, April 3, at 11 a.m.
Easter Sunday services at 8:30 and 10:45 a.m.
Door of Hope Church, Troy—
Sunday Resurrection of our Lord Service to be held at 10:30 a.m.
Troy Assembly of God Church —
Sunrise Service to be held at 7 a.m. Easter Service at 10:15 a.m.
Christ Lutheran Church, Libby—
Outdoor services beginning at 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.
To be held at River Front Park, Fred Brown Pavilion.
(Please wear a mask)
Three Lakes Community Bible Church, Troy—
St, Joseph Catholic Church, Libby—
Bridge of Hope Fellowship, Libby—
Eagle Valley Ministries, Libby—
Church of the Nazarene, Libby—
United Methodist Churches, Libby and Troy—
Libby – 293-4522
Troy – 295-4019
Libby Church of God—
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Libby—
*The above is a partial list of Easter Service and local church information compiled by
The Montanian. To be included in future holiday and/or church directories,
please call 293-8202 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.