Easter is not technically a federal holiday in the United States, but nonetheless it has been and continues to be one of the most widely celebrated holidays across the country. Numerous states have a state-level public holiday for Good Friday each year.
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Many stores will also close down for Easter Sunday. And some places of business and government offices may operate on truncated schedules. But there are also many institutions that do not change their regular schedule at all for Easter.
Based on the Bible and according to church tradition, the Easter holiday remembers the arduous journey of Jesus Christ as he journeyed to the cross where he was crucified. But Easter also marks a central belief of Christianity: the resurrection of Jesus three days later on what we now call Easter or Resurrection Sunday.
Since most of the early American settlers were Puritans or members of Protestant churches and had no desire to partake in religious festivals or unusual practices, the idea and implementation of celebrating Easter in the United States did not reach popularity until sometime around the civil war era. 150 years later, studies show that over 80 percent of the population observe Easter in some way.
During Good Friday church services, Christians all across the country put on spectacular productions of passion plays or recitals of the “seven sayings of Christ” then gather together again in churches on Easter Sunday for prayer and worship.
On Easter Sunday, many will attend special sunrise church services or may attend services later in the day. Some attend Easter vigils the night before and wait for the stroke of midnight, at which point, the celebration breaks out in full.
Most churches and places of worship offer congregants communion which is an act done in remembrance of Jesus Christ’s “Last Supper” with the disciples. The wine represents the blood shed on the cross and the bread represents the broken body of Jesus Christ.
But aside from its Christian roots, there are pagan roots to many Easter traditions, such as egg-painting and the Easter Bunny. Some of these elements have to do with the welcoming of spring weather, while others had an ancient pagan basis. But today, people simply follow these traditions out of habit or for the fun of it.
Easter egg hunts and other special Easter events or parties are common in the US. Candy sales and consumption go through the roof, and many enjoy a delicious Easter feast at home with family.
One of the biggest events to take place in the United States is the annual White House Easter Egg Roll where children are invited to Capitol Hill to roll eggs across the White House lawn with a long-handled spoon. The first child to roll their eggs across the finish line wins. This tradition was first initiated by Dolly Madison, the wife of President James Madison, in 1814 and was held on the grounds of the United States Capital until President Rutherford B. Hayes moved it to the White House lawn in 1878.