In many places around the world, Easter Monday is a day to get outside, spend time with your family and have picnics as spring begins to blossom. In other places, it’s traditions that, while odd, are still honored and celebrated centuries later. With deep roots in Europe, it is not widely celebrated in the United States.
So what is Easter Monday and what do people do? Here’s a quick look.
In some places the day after Easter is simply called Easter Monday. In other places, it’s Bright Monday, Renewal Monday, Wet Monday, or Dyngus Day.
It was once known as “Black Monday” and was, for a time, considered unlucky.
Who celebrates the day?
The day is a major holiday in the Eastern Orthodox community. It marks the beginning of “Bright Week” in the religion. Countries across Eastern and Western Europe, in particular, participate in Easter Monday observances.
What do they do?
In medieval England, tradition called for a man to lift a woman three times by the arms and legs. In Ireland, the day was known as the Day of Feasts. In Hungary, the tradition was for men to dunk their wife or girlfriend into water for good health, leading to the day being called Dunking Day.
In Guyana, people fly kites, which are made on Holy Saturday, the Saturday before Easter. People in the Netherlands have a festive breakfast then go hiking. Similarly, in Portugal and Italy people go to the countryside for picnics.
In London today, there is a parade in Hyde Park.
What about the United States?
In the U.S., Easter Monday is largely ignored. The most notable celebration happens at the White House where the president sponsors the annual Easter Egg Roll. The theme of the 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll is “Let’s Celebrate,” in honor of President Obama’s final year in office.
There will be live music with singer and actress Idina Menzel, a cooking demonstration with chef Jose Andres and visits from Sesame Street characters. For the first time this year, there will be a fun run in honor of first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative.
The tradition of the egg roll dates back to the 1870s when kids in the Washington DC area would take their Easter eggs to Capitol Hill to roll them. Congress, moving quickly to stem the fun, soon passed a bill outlawing egg rolling at the Capitol.
President Rutherford Hayes, after being approached by a group of kids who were looking for a place to roll their eggs, issued an order that allowed egg rolling to take place on the White House grounds.
Since then, with a few exceptions, eggs have been rolled on the White House lawn.