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Statewide Culture 0

Arkansas Easter Traditions


While Christmas and Thanksgiving may get all the publicity, Easter is one of the most celebrated holidays worldwide. Easter is an important day for many of the Christian faith as they celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many secular families celebrate Easter as the coming of Spring with no religious connection. No matter your reasons for celebrating, your family likely has some fun Easter traditions.

Easter, like many holidays, has both religious and pagan roots. And as is the American way, the holiday has been mostly commercialized and driven by candy. Not that there’s anything wrong with candy! Grab some candy from one of Arkansas’ chocolatiers like Cocoa Belle Chocolate,  Markham & Fitz, and KYYA Chocolate.

Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs. Photo courtesy of Arkansas Parks and Tourism.

Attending Church

Easter is the biggest day of the year for churches across the world. More people attend church on Easter than any other day of the year. Families often gather, attending services together where they will likely hear the story about the Empty Tomb and the resurrection of Jesus. Across Arkansas, sunrise (Son-Rise) services, which take place at the break of dawn, are popular.

Photo courtesy of Nichole Holze.

Easter Outfits

Choosing an Easter outfit was a big deal when I was a kid, and it’s still an annual event for many Arkansas families. Although homemade outfits aren’t quite as popular as they once were, Nichole Holze, a mom from Texarkana, has been hand-making Easter outfits for her kids for years. If you aren’t into making clothing, you can also snag some cute vintage pieces from L&E Vintage Clothing or get an embroidered outfit from Nantucket Heights Embroidery in Maumelle.

When it comes to fashion, many people use Easter as a signal to wear white again. Although the tradition began in the 1930s, originally stating white should only be worn between Memorial Day and Labor Day, modern fashionistas have bumped the start date to Easter or eliminated the restrictions altogether.

Photo courtesy of Laurie Marshall.

Easter Baskets

As the story goes, early on Easter morning, the Easter Bunny delivers baskets to children (and some lucky adults) that are full of candy and small toys. Check out our Arkansas-Made Pinterest board for great basket stuffer ideas.

Egg Tree

The Easter Egg Tree, known as Ostereierbaum, is a tradition that can be traced back to Germany. Families would begin hanging decorated, mouth-blown eggs into trees and bushes as many as four weeks before Easter as a celebration of new life and the coming of spring. Although this tradition is not quite as popular in America, many families, such as my own, participate in this annual tradition.

Easter Egg Hunts

Easter Egg Hunts are another tradition that can be traced back to Germany. Men would hide eggs, seen as a symbol of life, and women and children would run out to collect them. The activity is a nod to the resurrection story and Mary Magdalene discovering the empty tomb.

Egg Hunts are traditionally hosted by many churches and communities throughout Arkansas and often attract large crowds. Eggs are hidden throughout fields, yards, parks, church properties and even dropped from airplanes to be collected by excited children. The Easter Bunny often makes an appearance at egg hunts to have his picture made with excited children.

Check with local churches and cities regarding Easter egg hunts in your area.

Photo courtesy of Adria English.

Christ of the Ozarks

Located atop Magnetic Mountain in Eureka Springs, the Christ of the Ozarks is a 66-foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ standing with his arms spread wide. Although the statue is thought to depict the crucifixion of Jesus rather than his resurrection, many people are drawn to visit the statue during the Easter weekend.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Parks and Tourism. 

Great Passion Play

The Great Passion Play and Holy Land Tour in Eureka Springs has been attracting visitors since 1968. The outdoor drama, which takes place in a 4000-seat amphitheater, depicts the final week of the life of Christ.

In 2023, special performances will occur on Good Friday and the Saturday before Easter and a special Sunrise service on Easter Sunday. The regular performance season will begin on Memorial Day weekend. You can view the 2023 schedule on their website.

What traditions will you be celebrating this year?

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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and teaches art part-time at a local private school. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas where they raise chickens, farm hay and bake bread. Julie loves adventure and sharing it with her husband and son. They frequent the trails, campgrounds and parks of Arkansas, always on the hunt for new adventures and new stories to share. Learn more on her blog Seek Adventures Media.

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