Our Editors' Favorite Easter Traditions That We'll Never Give Up

Start these traditions with your family this Easter.

Easter children

Owen Franken/ Getty

For every holiday in the South, there’s a tradition to go with it. On Thanksgiving, we serve all sorts of sides, from collard greens with watermelon rind pickle to Carrot Souffle, all with a secret twist that makes us all say we don’t want anything but Mama’s recipe. For Christmas, we’re donned in our matching pajamas or dressed to the nines depending on the hour. Regardless of what time of year it is, you can be sure that in the South we’re celebrating something. Easter time is no different.

When it comes to Easter, however, there seem to be even more traditions and memories that we hold onto. There's something about Easter that feels distinctly Southern (even though we know it's not). Spring in the South is unlike anywhere else. It’s just warm enough that you can do things outside without melting, but there are still days when it’s chilly enough to want a quiet morning indoors. All the flowers are in bloom. We open our recipe boxes to some of our favorite dishes from pastel punches to lighter than air angel food cakes, and we send happies to our friends just to make sure that those we know feel loved. There is nothing more beautiful than springtime in the South, even on the rainiest of days.

Our Southern Living editors took a walk down memory lane to reminisce on some of our own favorite Easter traditions. While we might not include every Southern Easter tradition, we think we’ve covered a pretty wide range of holiday favorites.

Rye Grass Easter Basket
Laurey W. Glenn

Rye Grass Easter Basket

Southern Living talent and Editorial Producer Ivy Odom’s cherished Easter memory took some planning on her parents' part. “My mama always grew real rye grass for my Easter basket!” she shares enthusiastically. “She planted the seeds a few weeks before so the grass would be tall on Easter!” Even if you don’t have the greenest of thumbs, you should be able to pull off this project without too much trouble.

An Offering Egg

We all know that Easter is really about Jesus and the church, but our Homes and Features Editor Betsy Cribb’s family took the meaning of the holiday to a level that was approachable for young children. A plastic egg with a baggie of loose change inside was nestled in Betsy’s and her sister’s Easter baskets to be used as an offering for church that Sunday. It’s the perfect way to teach your children about the importance of giving while still taking part in the fun aspects of the holiday.

Pineapple Casserole in a square casserole pan
Photographer: Jen Causey, Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle,Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn

Pineapple Casserole

If you're from certain regions of the South, you know that Easter without Pineapple Casserole just doesn’t feel right. “It's not Easter without pineapple casserole in my house,” Odom declares. This dish is also the staple of many Easter potlucks and events that might not actually happen on Easter Sunday, but that melty cheese with rich butter crackers and canned pineapple is truly one-of-a-kind.

Church Easter Egg Hunt

You’ve seen it in Steel Magnolias, but across the South, the Church Easter Egg hunt is a highlight, especially for digital food editor Kimberly Holland whose childhood church took the hunt to a whole new level. “Those were EPIC,”  recalls Holland. “We had so many eggs to hunt (imagine the trunk full of dyed eggs in Steel Magnolias but maybe 3 times as many), and goodness knows we never found them all.” 

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest egg hunt was actually held in the South at Cypress Gardens Adventure Park in Florida where over 500,000 eggs were hidden.

Easter tradition
Courtesy of Betsy Cribb

Matching Dresses

Most Southern woman have had Easter dresses, but two members of our Southern Living team have a story about how they grew up wearing matching dresses with their sisters on Easter Sunday. Cribb, who has two younger sisters, reveals, “My sisters and I always matched (or at least had complementary duds) for Easter Sunday.” She goes on to say, “When we went through our Lilly Pulitzer phase, we'd go shop for our coordinating Easter outfits and the store would send my dad a handwritten thank you note.”

Assistant General Manager Anna Price Olson, who is a triplet, says “Ditto to matching dresses, shoes, baskets, and bows.” After all, is there anything more Southern than dressing up?

Bunny Cake

The Bunny Cake

Possibly the sweetest Easter tradition of them all is the Bunny Cake. Mary Shannon Hodes, our associate digital editor, makes one with her mother every year, even when they are apart. Hodes has been making this Easter cake for her entire life, and has no plans of stopping anytime soon. Even during the height of the pandemic, Hodes and her mother both made their own Bunny Cake and FaceTimed to still feel a sense of togetherness.

Egg Decorating

Growing up with a mother who was an elementary school art teacher, Editorial Fellow Mary Alice Russell loved going to the Church Easter egg hunt like Holland, but she also cherishes the tradition of decorating eggs. “I have really fond memories of hearing the fizz of the dye pellets and watching the eggs become more and more saturated with color,” she recalls. Now when Russell decorates eggs, she typically goes beyond using the egg dying kits and white crayon.

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