Easter egg hunts past and present

By: 
Dennis Warden
Publisher

Growing up in rural Missouri we all know the true meaning of Easter — that Jesus died for our sins and rose again on the third day. But our young children have another interpretation of the Easter holiday — candy and the Easter Bunny.

Did you know that more money is spent on candy during Easter each year than on Halloween? People spend more money per-person on candy for Halloween, but more Americans buy candy for Easter on the whole. In 2017 we spent $2.4 billion on Easter candy and just $2.1 billion on Halloween candy.

It seems the Easter Bunny has been deliverin  g eggs in America farther back that I would have imagined. With a little research on the internet I found it dates back to the 1700’s when, according to History.com, the floppy-eared bearer of candy came over with German immigrants.

After our photographers attended six community Easter egg hunts (using the term hunt loosely) during the last couple weeks I started wondering just how many plastic Easter eggs are handed out each year.

You can now buy plastic Easter eggs in bulk, empty or filled with prizes or candy, making it easy for organizations to hold Easter egg hunts giving away thousands of eggs at each event.

I remember Easter egg hunts when I was a child with my sister, and sometimes my cousins. We actually had to hunt for the prized eggs taking around 20 minutes to find maybe ten eggs each. 

At one hunt I took photos at last week, it took the mob of four to seven year olds just 45 seconds to swoop down and snatch the prizes which were scattered on the ground for everyone to see. 

At another Easter egg gathering (let’s call it what it really is) I took a photo of a young girl and her mother with their basket piled high with eggs. In addition the mother had her coat full of eggs and the little girl was stuffing more eggs in her own coat giving this mother/daughter duo what must have been over 50 prize filled plastic eggs.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging those who take advantage of this egg/candy grab. It’s a contest and to the winner go the spoils.

Just because I didn’t have that same opportunity when I was young doesn’t mean I’m jealous.

At least on Halloween the recipients of the candy have to dress up in costume and go from house to house — or trunk to trunk — to be rewarded with candy. On Easter it’s all sitting on the ground in plain sight for everyone to grab in a big race.

Like a horse race with the thoroughbreds prancing nervously before the start of a race, the children stand just a few feet away from the prizes waiting for the signal to start. This was the case in Rosebud when several eight and ten year olds spotted a golden egg on the course. It was a race that should have begun with a starting pistol.

I watched some parents of two and three year olds physically holding their children back before the beginning of their age group.

Connie hated to see that time in our lives come to a close so, after our three children were too old to attend organized Easter egg gatherings Connie and I held another tradition for them, from middle school through high school and college.

We — mostly Connie — would fill each of their Easter baskets with candy and prizes. Then that basket was hidden someplace in the house. To find the basket they were each given one plastic egg — color coded for each participant. The eggs held a clue that, when solved, led to another egg.

Usually each child had to solve around five clues before the basket could be discovered.

That was a real Easter egg hunt.

After searching the internet I never found an answer to my question about the number of plastic Easter eggs sold each year. But I did learn a lot about Easter.

It can fall anywhere from March 22 to April 25. So this year Easter was late on the calendar. It won’t fall this late in the year for another 10 years when Easter will again happen on April 21 in 2029.

In 2038 Easter will fall on the last possible date, April 25. Easter only occurs in the month of March about once every four years, or only nine times during the first 35 years of the 21 century.

For an rough estimate I would guess that each county in the United States buys around 10,000 plastic Easter eggs each year. With a total of 3,142 counties and county-equivalents that comes to over 31 million eggs.

That just my guess. If you have a better guess or know how many plastic eggs are sold email me.

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