Easter Symbols
& Traditions


The meaning of Easter, for millions of Christians, is honouring and recognizing Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead. His resurrection symbolizes eternal life. Easter also verifies that everything that Jesus taught and preached during His ministry was true. If He had just died and not been resurrected, He would have been considered just another teacher, however, His resurrection changed all that and gave proof that He was indeed the Son of God.

Read the Easter Story: For the younger Bible student; for the older student.

Read the Resurrection Story:  For the younger student; for the older.

If Easter is about the death of Jesus and His resurrection, what's up with all the bunnies, chicks, eggs, and lilies?  Many traditions and symbols associated with Easter have become familiar to us. They are all somehow connected to Christ coming back to life after death. 

The Cross -

The sign of the cross was a known symbol before the time of Christ being used as a special mark on clothing and buildings. After Christ's crucifixion, it became a symbol of suffering. With Christ's resurrection, Christians consider it to be a symbol of Jesus's victory over death.

In A.D. 325, Constatine at the Council of Nicaea issued a decree to make the Cross the official symbol of Christianity.


Palm Branches -

When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem prior to the Passover, it was the Roman custom to welcome royalty by waving palm branches in greeting. People carpeted the streets and waved the branches. Palm branches are still used today by many Christians in Palm Sunday parades and to decorate the church.


Lamb & Other Foods -

Prior to Jesus, people gave sacrifices to please God. A lamb was often used by the Hebrews long before the first Passover. The Easter story is about Jesus giving Himself as an offering to God for the sins of the world. Also, the Israelites used lamb's blood to save their firstborn in ancient Egypt. As a result, many people serve lamb as part of their Easter feast as a symbol of Jesus - the "Lamb of God" and Jesus as the Good Shepherd who watches over us as if we were lambs.


Baby Animals - Chicks -

Baby animals that are born in the spring are also used to represent spring and new life. Since the egg is used as a symbol of the start of new life, so is new life represented by the chick that hatches from the egg.


Easter Bunnies -

Since rabbits are very fertile animals, giving birth to many offspring in the spring, much like the little baby chicks, the bunny has served as a symbol of new life during the spring season. In Egypt, people believed that the rabbit was responsible for new life in the spring. Early Christians saw them as a symbol for the resurrection and new life of Christ.

Some in Europe say that a rabbit never closes his eyes and watches over other animals at night. As a result, it became a symbol of the moon. Since Easter is dependent upon the moon, the hare has become associated with the celebration.


An old story talks about a poor woman hiding brightly coloured eggs in her garden as treats for her children. As the children were hunting for the eggs, a rabbit hopped by. The children assumed that the rabbit had left the eggs. Every Easter, children in Germany make nests for the rabbits in their gardens out of branches and leaves.

In England, the goddess of spring is Eastre/Ostara having an earthly symbol of a rabbit. One story tells that the goddess transformed her pet bird into a hare, but the change was incomplete and the hare still laid eggs. The story goes on to say that the eggs were brightly coloured. 

Easter Eggs -    

The egg was originally a pagan symbol of the rebirth of the Earth during celebrations of spring. It was adopted by early Christians as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus. An egg promises new life since in the spring, birds and many other animals are hatched from eggs. Some think of the egg as a symbol of the tomb in which Christ was buried and from which he arose.

easter eggs

Colouring Easter Eggs -

The exact origin of the custom of colouring eggs is not known. Some Christians of the Eastern Orthodox church dyed their eggs red to represent the colour of blood to recognize Jesus' sacrifice. Some use the colour green, to honour new spring growth.

The old tradition was to dye or paint chicken eggs. The modern custom is to substitute real eggs with chocolate eggs or to fill plastic eggs with treats. Often, eggs are hidden, allegedly by the Easter Bunny, for children to find on Easter morning.

A very famous Easter egg decorator was Peter Carl Faberge who designed beautiful eggs made of gold, silver and previous gems. Ukrainian eggs are decorated using beeswax and dyes and illustrate folk designs.  Estonians use onion skins to make pretty patterns on their Easter eggs.

easter eggs

Easter Lily & other flowers -

The lily is a white, trumpet-shaped flower that can be found in many religious paintings. It has been used as the traditional Easter flower since it symbolizes hope, life, innocence and virtue.  With its white blossoms symbolizing the purity of Jesus for some or the Virgin Mary for others, the Easter lily is used to celebrate the resurrection of Christ and the promise of life everlasting.

Other flowers symbolizing spring and new life include daffodils and tulips. Pussy willows are especially popular in England and Russia at Easter. People tap each other on the shoulder with a branch for good luck.

easter lily

Rooster -

Did you know that many churches in Europe don't have crosses at the top of the steeple? In Matthew 26:69-75 Jesus' disciple Peter was told by Jesus that he would deny Christ three times. Luke 22:61 says, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times."


The Dogwood Tree -

The Dogwood is a tree which blooms in the spring. It has been adopted by Christians as a symbol of the crucifixion of Jesus. Legends say that a dogwood tree was used to make the cross at the crucifixion and grows now as a living memorial of the event.

* The four petals of the dogwood flowers represent the cross with their petals.
* The petals often have marks on the outer edge said to be nail marks.
* The centre of the flower sometimes resembles a crown.
* The red dogwood berries are said to represent the blood of Christ.


Bonfires & Candles -

A prehistoric race of people called the Celts used to practice a religion called Druidism. They believed that there were good and evil spirits and that the evil spirits captured the sun god resulting in winter. At the beginning of the Spring, they lit huge bonfires to scare away the evil spirits so that they would release the sun. As part of their Easter celebrations even today, people in Germany and Belgium light bonfires. Today, bonfires represent the light coming to the world through Christ.

Candles are used as symbols of the light of Christ illuminating the darkness. Jesus is referred to as "the eternal light" showing Christians the way from death to life.


Butterfly -

The butterfly is another Easter symbol tied to the cycle of life. The first stage of a caterpillar represents Jesus' life on earth. The second cocoon stage may mean His crucifixion and burial. The third and final stage is when a beautiful butterfly emerges representing Jesus' rising from the dead in a glorified body.  


Easter Hats -

A very famous Easter parade was held in New York City each year with people parading down Fifth Avenue from St. Patrick's Cathedral. New clothes and Easter hats all symbolize new life offered through the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is a tradition that is not as popular as it once was. Ladies used to purchase fancy, new hats for Easter church services. Easter bonnets are becoming harder and harder to find as fewer and fewer women uphold this tradition.

easter hat

Pretzel shape -

The twisted shape of pretzels, also served often at Easter, are thought to symbolize arms crossed in prayer.


Hot Cross Buns -
Hot cross buns are very popular in Great Britain and served on Good Friday and throughout Easter. In ancient times, the two equinoxes were known as cross quarter days with Spring starting the new year. Their loaves were marked with a plus (cross) to represent the four seasons of the year. Today, each hot cross bun now has an icing cross to remind people of Christ.

hot cross buns

Wine -

Red wine is often shared during Easter meals to remind us of Jesus shedding His blood for humanity.

wine glass

Easter Bells -

In some European countries, church bells are rung throughout the year, but not on the Thursday before Good Friday. They are kept silent in order to remember the death of Jesus. The bells are rung again on Easter Sunday to tell people that Jesus is alive again.

church bells
Easter border
Images are the courtesy of Pixabay.com and Tiiu Roiser.

Fun Easter Facts

- 16 billion jelly beans are made for Easter. The most favourite jellybean flavour is cherry (20%), strawberry (12%), grape (10%), lime (7%) and blueberry (6%).  

- 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies are made each year.

- 76 percent of people eat the ears on chocolate bunnies first; 13% bite the feet first and 10% eat the tail first.

- For Americans, Easter is the second largest candy-eating occasion, after Halloween.

- The most popular Easter candy is a chocolate egg. The second most popular are marshmallow peeps.

- Easter eggs are the most popular symbol on Hallmark Easter cards. 118 million Easter cards will be exchanged each year.

Bible lesson activities

Learning Activity Extensions

Online games from TheKidzPage.  Ensure that you allow FlashPlayer  to run before playing.
Easter Egg Logic Game - The object of the game is to stand all of the easter eggs up at once, but it's not easy!  Each time you click an egg, all of the eggs around it will reverse their position.  
Sliding Puzzle
Coloured Eggs MahJong - Remove pairs of matching tiles eventually removing all the tiles.  Note:  Tiles are only available if they are not covered by another tile AND there is space on either the left or right of the tile.
Easter Sudoku - To add or change a symbol, click until the symbol you want appears.
Easter crossword fill-in puzzle.
Memory Match - Easter Chicks - Flip the cards to find a match.

Colouring pages courtesy of supercoloring.com.  Download or colour online:
Easter mandala with Two Rabbits and Eggs
Easter mandala with a basket, rabbit, chickens and eggs
Easter mandala with rabbit and baskets full of eggs
Jesus dies on cross
Jesus' entry into Jerusalem - Palm Sunday
Jesus before Caiaphas
Jesus ascends to heaven

children ministry

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