Symbols of Easter


The Easter holiday and its celebrations around the world are rich with symbolism. Included below are just a sampling of Easter-related symbols and how they came to be.


The Easter Bunny

: 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.


: 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, and then eat them on Easter as a celebration.


: Are rung in France and Italy throughout the year but they are not rung on the Thursday before Good Friday. They are silent as a way to remember the death of Jesus. They are then rung on Easter Sunday as a way of telling people Jesus is alive again.

The Cross

: This is the symbol for the Christian religion, as Jesus was nailed to a cross but then came back to life. Symbolizes Jesus’ victory over death.


: The lily was a reminder to the Christians of how Jesus came back to life. The white Easter lily is used in many Easter services. It is supposed to be a symbol of the purity of the Virgin Mary.

Pussy Willows

: These are especially picked at Easter in England and Russia. People would tap each other on the shoulders with a branch of the pussy willow for good luck.


: Christ is often referred to as “The Lamb of God” slain for the salvation of the world. Christians are also referred to as lambs with Christ as their shepherd. The Israelites also used lamb’s blood to save their firstborn in ancient Egypt.


: Candles give light in darkness. Jesus is seen as “the eternal light” showing Christians the way from death to life.

Palm Branches

: These are used as a symbol of peace. When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday and people waved palm branches, welcoming him.

Hot Cross Buns

: These sweet breads have a cross of icing on the top to remind people of Christ.


: A food eaten during Lent — the twisted shaped symbolizes arms crossed in prayer.


: One of the significant symbols of Easter, its whole life cycle is meant to symbolize the life of Jesus Christ. The first stage is the caterpillar, which stands for His life on Earth; the second phase begins from the cocoon stage, portraying the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. The third and final stage is the butterfly, representing His raising from the dead in a glorified body and peace.