10 Easter Traditions You Will Only Find In The South

Southerners don’t have a monopoly on celebrating Easter, but there’s no denying that we mark the day with exceptional flair.

When it comes to celebrating holidays, Southerners would never be accused of going the less-is-more route. Rather, we tend to take an all-in, over-the-top approach that’s matched only by the amount of butter we include in our biscuits. And while we certainly don’t hold a monopoly on celebrating Easter, there’s no denying that we mark the day with exceptional flair.

Easter Egg Initial Place Cards

Photo: Helen Norman

For this beloved spring holiday, our exuberant MO means dyed eggs by the dozen, tables set with every single piece of our grandmothers’ silver, and the whole crew dressed in seersucker. Here, we’ve rounded up a handful of Easter traditions you’ll find in the South.

Courtesy (6)

Our Sunday Extra-Best

Southern churchgoers tend to dress in their finest nearly every Sunday, saving their polished shoes and freshly pressed shirts for worship services. But even the most casual congregation will step up their game to celebrate Resurrection Day.

In the South, that often means smocked dresses and hair bows for little girls, seersucker shorts for young boys, pastel-hued bow ties for men, and fabulous hats for the women. And don’t be surprised if you see siblings dressed in matching or coordinating outfits. Consider it the year’s first opportunity to snag a family photo worthy of the Christmas card!

Crepe Mini Dress in white

Courtesy of Revelry

The Reappearance of Summery Whites

While we’re no longer legalistic about the no-white-after-Labor-Day rule, we do tend to replace the bright, summery end of the spectrum with creamier winter whites between the months of September and March. But when Jesus is resurrected, so too are our lightweight eyelet dresses and white espadrilles—and we’ll likely be wearing them to church. 

five kids in potato sack race
Image Source

Church Courtyard Celebrations

If you’ve never hopped the length of your place of worship’s courtyard in a burlap sack whilst wearing Mary Janes with lacy socks and a puffy-sleeved dress, did you even grow up in the South? Just as Vacation Bible School in this part of the world is an experience all its own, so too is Easter. After the cross on the front porch has been adorned with fresh flowers and all the hymns have been sung, it’s out to the church green for lemonade, egg hunts, and a little friendly competition, from sack races to egg tosses. 

Shaving Cream Eggs
Final result.

Elizabeth Jones

Eggs, Eggs, and More Eggs

Eggs dyed in every shade of the rainbow are a given, of course, as are plastic eggs stuffed with jelly beans and tucked in every corner of the yard, but that’s hardly unique to the South. Our  preferred Easter eggs are the ones that come hard-boiled and filled with fluffy yolks whipped with mayo, sweet pickle relish, and a little Durkee’s (if you know, you know). And, naturally, we like our deviled eggs served in a pretty, seasonal plate designed especially for them—particularly if it coordinates with Aunt Betty’s hand-me-down china.

Faux branch-style greenery in a white vase.

West Elm

Dogwood Branches on Display 

The creamy white flowers burst into a glorious show in the spring months in this neck of the woods, so you’ll often find stems of the flowering branches plopped in vases around Southern homes. Their spring emergence has long tied them to Easter, but for Christians they carry especially meaningful symbolism: the four petals resemble a cross; the center looks a bit like a crown of thorns; and the indentions at the edge of each petal represent the nails that pierced Jesus’ hands and feet.

Easter Table Setting
Jennifer Davick

An Heirloom-Worthy Tablescape

We’re sticklers for cloth napkins at nearly every meal, and holidays like Easter only up the ante: you can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be pulling out the starch and the ironing board to press every inch of the table linens. And that’s just the base. Also making an appearance for post-church brunch? Our grandmother’s collection of Gorham Buttercup sterling silver flatware, the basketweave plates we received as a wedding gift, and the bitty, egg-decked Easter tree that Mama always sets out the morning after Valentine’s Day.

Picnic Egg Salad

Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Cat Steele

Epic Egg Salad

It would not be a Southern Easter without egg salad. And you will encounter this traditional dish all day--from church and back to the house for dinner. There are just no end of resources on this special day to bring your best in egg salad. Those colorful orbs nestled in the baskets are meant for sandwiches or toast points. Trust that your kids will prioritize the chocolate and not miss the eggs you made off with to ensure the egg salad comes together.

Strawberry Dream Cake
Photo: Greg Dupree

A Holiday For Cake

We do not skimp on dessert for our holidays in the South, and Easter gives us yet one more reason to layer up a cake. Easter cake is truly a thing here, and it's not just the opulent dinner that requires a cake. Don't forget about your church's cakewalk or even the potluck you committed to. The direction you might take is almost limitless, and if you want to lean in another direction, by all means consider whipping up a pie.

Easter Centerpiece

Laurey W. Glenn

An Elaborate Centerpiece

Your table setting matters on Easter, and the centerpiece can really make the ultimate difference. This particular ode to carrots is absolutely eye-popping, easily sourced, and impressive. Are you interested in more of a table landscape? You can't lose with either choice, and even trying to have a little fun with your place cards will matter.

Sweet-Hot Plum-Glazed Ham
Southern Living

Impressive Easter Ham

When did ham become the thing to lean on during the Easter holiday? It used to be that lamb was king on Easter, but eventually the ham proved to be a cheaper cut of meat that was easier to source. And what would post-Easter meals be without a ham sandwich on white with mayo? We look forward to the circle of leftovers surrounding this inspiring holiday every year.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles