USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘easter’
Earth cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Easter Egg Traditions

Context & Analysis

My roommate (the subject) and I were sitting in our dorm room talking about how our families celebrated different holidays. The subject’s family is relatively large and extremely tight-knit. Most of her extended family live within an hour radius, and they highly value family gatherings. The dying of the Easter eggs the night before is a tradition carried out only by her immediate family, suggesting that this tradition might not be shared with her extended relatives. It is also interesting to consider that the family chooses to celebrate Easter despite not being religious themselves. Additionally, the subject and her sisters are all high school age or older, so I think that it is fascinating that their mother maintains the façade of the Easter bunny hiding the eggs. It appears that the tradition of the performing the event in the exact way it has “always” been is a way to preserve an important part of girls’ childhood.


Main Piece

“On Easter, we always do an Easter egg hunt and the night before we always dye hard-boiled eggs. And my parents always hide the eggs and it’s funny because they keep the façade of ‘Oh, the Easter bunny hid it over there, wow he’s so sneaky!” but its them, it’s like—but my sisters and I are (all three) old enough that we know that, but, like, it’s funny that they still keep that. My mom won’t shop for Easter bunny stuff in front of us, she’ll like—my sister pointed out some stuff to her at Target like “Oh mom, look those are cute baskets for everyone “ and she’s like “No that’s Easter bunny shopping, the Easter bunny will come back later” [laughs], so she attempts to like keep that going, but it’s funny and it’s always been that way.”


Rituals, festivals, holidays

Pomlázka Celebration

Informant: On every Easter Monday it is a Czech tradition for men to create a Pomlázka, which is an approximately one meter long wooden stick. This stick is then used to whip women on the butt.

The whipping is traditionally accompanied by a song, its purpose is to cleanse the woman of diseases and they are rewarded with sweets if they are children and alcohol if they are old enough to drink. Then, in some parts of the country, it is also a tradition for women to spill or pour a bucket of cold water on men as a reaction.

The songs usually are something along the lines of “give me eggs”, referring to the overarching tradition of Easter eggs. The most commonly song is something like: “Hody, hody, doprovody, dejte vejce malovaný, nedáte-li malovaný, dejte aspoň bílý, slepička vám snese jiný”, which I believe roughly translates to: “Hey, hey, give us coloured Easter eggs, if you don’t have coloured ones, give us at least white ones, your hen will give you new ones”

Context: My informant is a nineteen year old Czech national attending school in the United States. He’s lived in Prague for most of his life, and Czech is his first language. The interview was conducted face-to-face in a college dorm room.

Background: My informant actively participates in Easter celebrations in Prague, where this tradition is widely practiced. According to him, most people find it ridiculous, but nevertheless entertaining, a view which he shares. He believes that this is an important expression of Czech culture, as this tradition dates back generations, but also thinks that it is practiced mostly for entertainment.

Analysis: This was one of the first holiday based customs I encountered while collecting elements of folklore. I was surprised that, despite occurring on Easter, the custom is actually relatively devoid of Christian symbolism, instead focusing on the egg element of the holiday. This seems to reflect a less-dominant role of religion within Czech culture, as Easter Sunday, a not unimportant day for Christians, is celebrated without the mention of Jesus or the resurrection at all. There are, however, some religious undertones, as the whipping sticks used by the men supposedly “cleanse” the women of their diseases.


Aerosols, C4, and High-Powered Rifles

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the performer (EC) and I (ZM).

ZM: Do you do anything, like special, around Christmas? Other than like the goulash?

EC: Not really. We have a lot of like very family specific traditions, um, because my grandparents owned like a huge ranch in Napa and had like a winery and everything. And so like, that has been like in the family for generations and so like a lot of our holiday tradition’s centered around like going up to the house and like being rednecks in general.

ZM: What do you do?

EC: Um like, on Easter, we would like blow things up. So like, for Easter I might get some aerosol paint cans and then some like C4 explosive and put them together and then shoot it with a high powered rifle just to see how big of a fireball I can make.

ZM: (laughs) And that’s just… because they live on a ranch?

EC: That’s just our family. Yeah.

ZM: Do you go every year and like blow stuff up? Is that like a…

EC: Yeah. It actually burned down, so like not in the last year with this recent fires, but yeah um before that we would go for like every holiday, like Fourth of July, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, other random stuff.

ZM: And do you blow stuff up every holiday?

EC: Basically. Every holiday involves shooting guns in our family.


Context: This is from a conversation I started with EC originally about her German traditions.


Background: EC is a sophomore studying at the University of Southern California. She is of German descent.


Analysis: I thought it was ironic that EC and her family always try to create the biggest fireballs that they can on the ranch and it ended up burning down, but the two events were completely unrelated. The actual act seemed unrelated to the variety of holidays it is performed on. The explosions seem more like something they do when they’re together and they just happen to be together on those holidays.


Rituals, festivals, holidays

Easter Eggs with Satire

Informant Info: The informant is an 18-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently a freshman studying Public Policy at USC.

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: With Easter just passing, did you or your family celebrate it? If so, how?


Interviewee: Sooooo…. We are not religious, but we still celebrate Easter. What we do is we dye Easter eggs AND then the Easter bunny would hide them in our yard on Saturday. On Easter, we would wake up and have the good ol’ traditional Easter egg hunt. And since we weren’t religious, my parents would sorta make jokes out of it. My mom grew up Catholic, so sometimes she would we toss in prank items, like Jesus band aids. We would then dinner 2pm, which I always thought was early, but hey… home cooked food!



Despite not being religious, the informant’s family still celebrates a typical American Easter, primarily in terms of the Easter Eggs. Across the globe, eggs are extremely important symbols of spring, regrowth, and birth. Once again, family bonding still appears to be the most important factor.


Italian Easter

The informant is my father (referred to as FI) who is raised by two Italian parents and was raised in a very traditional Italian household. His parents have been married for 60 years and knew each other in their Italian towns since they were age 10. Easter is a big deal in Italian culture because it is a Catholic holiday.


FI: “Easter is, similarly to Christmas, more of week-long celebration than a one day holiday. All of Italy is very involved in events that occur that week. The Pope is out and about leading up to Easter.

On Easter Sunday people dress in green and white. Green and white are two of Italy’s colors but also I think it represents peace, hope, and resurrection. On Easter Sunday there is a lot of food, but also the traditional candies that we eat in America are not eaten. It’s not as much about Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies. I know doves are also released during this time and then everyone heads to church. Sunday mass is a huge part of Easter Sunday.”

I found this to be particularly interesting that these were the traditions my father grew up with because they were definitely not carried down to me/ his children. When I was growing up, Easter was all about the chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs and we rarely went to church. Despite the fact that my father grew up in a traditionally Catholic Italian home, I feel that we were not given a lot of those same traditions because he actually no longer identifies as Catholic. I believe that also now holidays are so commercialized, especially in the United States, so it is hard to celebrate them with many real traditions that aren’t centered around religious ideas or food.

Rituals, festivals, holidays

Easter Eggs

Main Piece: Easter Eggs

The following was a story told to me by a college of mine, ER, and I am DM. The story was about a new tradition created within her family that changed the way her family celebrates Easter.

ER: I am going to tell the transition of my family celebrating Easter. My grandma grew up in a traditional Catholic household where they would go to mass every Easter. In terms of Easter, she would always mention that they would go to mass on like Christmas Easter and that they would be there and kind of celebrating the resurrection of the Lord and so this idea of faith kind of guiding your year of setting the tone for the practices of daily life. When moved to the United States, um they did not go to mass growing up so my grandmother kid of lost this tradition of when she raised my father and his siblings. They did not go to mass other than Christmas and they didn’t really celebrate Easter and that Tradition was lost for about thirty years. My brother and all of my cousins started to having children so it’s kind of another layer of transition in our family holidays where Easter was now more about the kids. Everyone got together on Easter day to celebrate and we would use typically in Mexico these are called cascarones which are confetti filled eggs and so typically you go around smashing them on people’s head kind of a fun little chiste (joke) that you do with each other. My family thinks they are very funny so my cousins always try to get us like when we were unaware. Two years ago, bought the color dye from the color runs on Amazon and filled the eggs with the dye. So every year we have about 500-1000 Easter eggs that we break on each others heads. We have this huge cascarone fight. It has been interesting seeing the change transition from going to a typical conservative formal Easter celebration to nowhere really it’s just a day to spend with family and focus on each other and that time together.


The participant is thirty-two years old. She is a Mexican American high school English 10 teacher. She told me about how her Easter evolved from a traditional Catholic Easter to a new tradition.  

DM: Where/who did they learn it from?

ER: It is just something that happened organically over time

DM: Why is this tradition important to you?

ER: I think part of that we are going over the typical norm of like society and just being typical Latino like you go to church that was the obligation that you had to do to now like making it our own and kind of making it what works for us.

Analysis/ My Thoughts:

I think this is a perfect example of how one thing changes over time but still the same thing. The tradition of celebrating Easter has stayed the same, but the way they Easter is celebrating is different. There are multiple ways these generations celebrated Easter day. 

You can find the story of the eggs here:

Rentería, Melissa. “’Confetti-Filled Eggs’ a Tradition.” San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio Express-News, 21 Apr. 2011, This article talks more in depth about the history of where these cascarones came from as well as how popular they are today. They mention how there are stores where they just sell these cascarones.


Folk Beliefs

Naciemento de JesusChristo

During Christmas time, the whole family gets together right before eating dinner. In this family ceremony, everybody gets a Jesus looking treat, usually something the mom of the family makes, and everybody then kisses Jesus on the forehead and then eats the head. It’s to symbolize Jesus and the Holy Spirit being in you. This always happens between the hours of 2am-3am after Christmas Eve. The time is important, because that is the time in which it connects to the “witch hour” where Evil is supposedly the strongest.


Eloisa is a Michoacan born lady who has lived in Arkansas since she has been a little girl. She used to be really religious, but after being opened up to human rights, and mostly women rights, she has taken a step back and tried to analyze everything to decide on what she can really identify as part of her.

Rituals, festivals, holidays

Paschal Greeting – Greek Orthodox

“Because I’m Greek Orthodox, we have a service the night before Easter. What we do is, the priest turns off all the lights in the church and then we have candles. And we say ‘Christ has risen and truly he has risen’ in like eight different languages. ‘Khristos Anesti. Alithos Anesti. Christ has risen. Truly he has risen.’* and all these different forms of languages for about an hour and a half. It’s just a symbolized of I think inclusivity. We just wear our church clothes. Like my mom always says, ‘Dress as though you’re going to God’s house.’ Everyone is in more ‘happier’ colors since it’s Easter”

My informant is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church. She is deeply connected to her church and still practices her religion faithfully. I thought it was interesting to hear how her family celebrates Easter because I personally am Presbyterian, which is a branch of Christianity. We only celebrate Palm Sunday and Good Friday prior to Easter. I have never heard of a celebration being held the night before Easter. This service is referred to as the Paschal Greeting in Greek Orthodox custom. I really liked the idea of chanting “Christ has risen and truly he has risen” in multiple languages as a representation of inclusivity. However, I will admit having to do that for an hour and half seems extremely tedious. My informant on the other hand seemed enthusiastic about the ritual, proving her patience and loyalty to God.


Rituals, festivals, holidays

Flying a Kite on Easter



Nationality: Jamaican

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): French

Age: 33

Residence: New York City, USA

Performance Date: April 15, 2017 (Skype)


Garfield is a 33 year old man, born and raised in Ochos Rios, Jamaica who is a loss control manager for a large clothing store in New York City. He immigrated to the United States 6 years ago.



Interviewer: Good Evening. Do you have a family story about when you lived in Jamaica and celebrated the holiday of Easter?


Informant: So I was saying like today is Easter Saturday you most people are out on the play field fields, flying kites, you know. They play crickets and sometimes we have kiteflying competitions you know. Whose kites look the best the designs, or um whose is the biggest, like the biggest kites, there is a competition for that also. And um a lot of bun and cheese. Jamaicans love bun and cheese for Easter you know. A lot of homes bake pudding. Jamaicans also love pudding for Easter you know. They don’t do a lot cooking like from Good Friday. They put away the cooking and they bake from like Thursday or so to celebrate Good Friday.  And then, today is Easter Saturday everybody has a kite, from the oldest to the youngest. When they fly kites, yes um. Some kids play marbles, but most focus on their kites today. Yes very nice. Very nice.


Interviewer:  When you came to the Unites States did you carry on any of the traditions here?


Informant: No not really. Because.. ah.. I don’t see much place here. I don’t see them following the traditions here. I don’t see kites in the sky. So even if they have kites here they are ready made. Like I see some of the tree things tree tree thing looks like something from China. We make our kites from bamboo, Jamaican bamboo. Then we shave it and buy bags of colored paper and we design the kites you know. Everything is just different and there love for Easter is more you can feel a different energy really in Jamaica. You know here people having Palm Sunday that stuff like that. They go to Church but they don’t have the vibe when we celebrate Easter in Jamaica.


Interviewer: What is the significance of Kite Flying on Easter in Jamaica?


Informant: Well you know it is all about Jesus on Easter, When we put the kite in the sky you know it is about the rise of Jesus to heaven. Yes that is what it is.


Thoughts about the piece:

Family traditions and memories can be very emotional. I sense from the Informant that there is a great void not able to celebrate Easter in Jamaica with family and friends. I was struck by his observations about the “vibe” being so different in the US. Even though there is a significant Jamaican / Caribbean diaspora in New York, that doesn’t duplicate experiences in Jamaica. Other Caribbean Islanders also fly kites for Easter:


Rituals, festivals, holidays

Polish Easter Basket Blessing

Nationality: Polish

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): Polish

Age: 28

Residence: New York City, USA

Performance Date: April 15, 2017 (Skype)


Christopher is a 28 year old man, born and raised in Warsaw, Poland and who emigrated with his family to the United States when he was 8 years old.  He is a College Graduate with a degree in Political Science. He is currently employed as a doorman in an apartment building in Queens, New York.


Interviewer: Good Afternoon. Does today being Holy Saturday bring back any memories of how you celebrated Easter in Poland?


Informant: So on Holy Saturday we would wake up very early and we would make um an Easter Basket with the family. Usually the youngest in the family will make the basket and in the basket you would put in a boiled egg, a piece of bread so ah a piece of Kielbasa little items like that. And that Saturday Morning, you and the family would head to Church and the Easter Basket would be blessed by a Priest. You would not be allowed to eat meat until that Easter Basket is blessed. Once the basket is blessed the whole family can enjoy meat on that Saturday. And that is the Polish Tradition of Easter on Holly Saturday.


Interviewer: Do you have any special remembrances when you celebrated in Poland as a young child then when you immigrated to the United States?


Informant: Oh my best memory is just how people would dress up and take the holiday very seriously. It was a very big, big holiday in Poland growing up.


Interviewer: Were there any changes when you got to the United States and the way the Polish Community celebrated Easter as opposed to in Poland?


Informant: Well in Poland they would held a big mass and this would take two hours to do. Everyone would get together with the Easter Eggs and baskets and getting blessed.  Over here in America I noticed it is a quick five minute process. You enter the church, you see the priest, then you are right out the door.


Interviewer: Now, as you live in America and people are less devoted to faith then in Poland, does the holiday take on another significance beyond religious?


Informant: For me personally this is ah about family, it keeps the family together. This tradition keeps the family together. It is about tradition.  Without tradition we start to lose family. As I said, we all get together for dinner, we see each so it is just a great way to catch up with family you haven’t seen in a quite a while.


Thoughts about the piece:  

Polish immigrants that want to continue or revive this tradition of “swieconka” in the US, can find a list of church services and traditional basket ingredients on sites like this: Symbolism of basket ingredients is explained here;