See What Easter Baskets Have Looked Like Over the Past 100 Years
From the 20th century to modern day, see what this springtime holiday has looked like over the years—in baskets of bunnies, chocolate candy, decorated eggs are more items of nostalgia.
Around the world, Easter is celebrated with decorated eggs, traditional dishes, and, oftentimes, a basket of gifts. Here in the United States, the Easter basket takes after German tradition: filled to the brim with goodies like decorated eggs, chocolate candy, and a cuddly stuffed bunny. Sometime around the early 1600s, German Protestants relayed to their children that the "Osterhase" hare, which is a pagan symbol of fertility and springtime, would visit their home touting colorful eggs in "nests" of bonnets, hats, and baskets. The Pennsylvania Dutch settlers later brought this tradition to America, where it became commonly celebrated during the Victorian era. Eventually, the Osterhase became the Easter Bunny, and the baskets held the toys, candy, and decorated eggs that we all enjoy now.
Today, the choices for Easter baskets are more personalized than ever: small gifts for young children and teenagers, first basket ideas for babies, plus plenty of non-candy options. For sweetness, Cadbury eggs and marshmallow chicks have been some of the most popular treats in children's Easter baskets. And even if you're a grown adult, you're not exempt from a basket yourself. The beauty of Easter morning is special for everyone.
To inspire you in the holidays to come, tour these 100 years of Easter baskets—from the turn of the 20th century all the way through 2019—as they appeared in people's homes and public spaces for gift-giving. These are the trends that originated from a specific time and place, and remain memorable for those who experienced them first-hand.
At the turn of the century, postcards were mailed out for every holiday and occasion, and Easter was no exception. Here, a young child is depicted in a bunny costume touting her basket. A basket in this decade was undoubtedly hand-woven and filled to the brim with eggs dyed the old-fashioned way: with vegetable peels and scraps.
The nation's total wealth more than doubled between 1920 and 1929, and this economic growth swept many Americans into an affluent but unfamiliar "consumer society." Holidays were a time of indulgent gift-giving. Pictured here, a little girl holds a lace-design wicker basket with ribbon-decorated eggs, flowers, and a stuffed velveteen rabbit.
After the stock market crash of 1929 ushered in the Great Depression of the 1930s, people enjoyed a more pared down Easter that harkened back to its humble beginnings. This, however, didn't dampen anyone's optimism for spring. In this snapshot dated to 1937, a farm-working girl holds a basket full of chicks—a resourceful idea.
From the '30s to the mid '40s, World War II meant limits on trade between European countries and the United States. For the first time, Americans were envisioning a new kind of Easter basket—one with colorful grasses, ribbons, and foiled eggs. In 1946, a young girl admires her Easter basket containing colored eggs and fluffy chicks.
The mid-century meant a revival of the American Dream—and, on Easter, this meant cakes, everyone dressed in their Sunday best, children with their bonnets and candy, and a sense of fulfillment in homemaking. Easter baskets were larger than ever, as shown by actress Doris Day.
Easter baskets in the '60s experienced a technicolor explosion with new ways to dye eggs and the innovation of single-use plastics. In 1967, two siblings pictured here open up their PAAS Easter egg dyeing kit including color tablets for dyeing, paper cut-out bunnies and chicks, as well as alphabet stickers.
Going into the '70s, baskets were still aplenty. This was also the height of popularity when people tuned in to watch The Brady Bunch. Pictured here, from top: Robert Reed (Mike), Barry Williams (Greg), Maureen McCormick (Marcia), Christopher Knight (Peter), Eve Plumb (Jan), Mike Lookinland (Bobby) and Susan Olsen (Cindy) in an Easter promo.
The '80s were possibly the boldest decade in modern history: over-the-top silhouettes, saturated colors, and innovative manufacturing. And what could be more exciting than a giant Easter egg? Chocolate eggs were popular in the '70s, '80s, and '90s.
It wasn't the '90s without a photograph taken with the Easter Bunny at the mall. This was remembered as a time of strong economic growth, and this resulted in mass consumerism. Easter baskets—and even buckets—were plastic with colorful eggs, artificial grass filler, and gifts like stickers and coloring books.
At the turn of the millennia, Easter has harkened back to its more German origins in decor and traditions. Most recently, baskets have experienced a return to minimalism in the wake of eco-friendly movements. That said, everyone still enjoys a chocolate bunny.