Easter can bring out the kid in even the most serious adults, and Easter party games give parents a chance to share the joy of spring with their children. When weather allows, parties can take place entirely outside–Easter brunch served on the patio can segue smoothly into races and treasure hunts. A large central table piled with baskets and treats helps create a central gathering place where hosts can explain the rules and prizes for the games.
Easter Celebration Origins
Although Easter celebrates the resurrection of Christ, the celebrations and games associated with it derive from other older and diverse cultures and religions. Heathen cultures celebrated the return of spring with games, bonfires and eggs as a symbol of renewal. Etymologists attribute the French and Italian word for Easter–“Paques” and “Pascua”–to “Pesach,” the Hebrew name for Passover. Northern European tribes recently converted to Christianity melded together Christ’s resurrection with their celebrations welcoming the rebirth of nature after harsh winters.
When in Spring
Easter falls on different calendar days each year. There is no official date for Easter. Rather, it falls on the first Sunday after a full moon that follows March 21. Full moons occurring on Sunday mean that Easter falls on the following Sunday. Easter can be as early as late March, and weather at that early date can be variable in large portions of the United States. Making contingency planning for games that work indoors as well as outdoors can help avoid disappointed children and adults in the event that rain moves celebrations inside.
Easter celebrations and games brought joy to many generations of celebrants. In the 4th century, Pope Gregory of Nyssa wrote about all trade ceasing on Easter, and about joyous dancing and popular entertainments being encouraged by the church. In the new millennium, games still entertain families. Easter games test a child’s skills, encourage participation by all family members and allow loved ones to celebrate the centuries-old tradition of spring and renewal together.
Hunting and Hopping
Modern-day Easter games include the classic Easter egg search. Children and adults all participate in painting eggs the day before Easter Sunday, and on Easter, colorful eggs tucked away in corners of gardens serve as bounty for the hunt.
Parents can give children decorative baskets in which to collect the eggs. All kids should receive prizes of chocolate or candy eggs as a reward. Easter games do not emphasize winning, but rather, celebrating together.
Pin the Tail on the Easter Bunny is a springtime variant on the well-known Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Tape or adhesive fabric provides a safe substitute for pins or other sharp objects.
When weather permits, bunny-hop races allow participants to burn off some energy before sitting down to brunch. Watching an adult hop around in a sack is a source of great entertainment for some kids.
Providing a safe and flexible area for celebrations is a good idea. Parents can secure any unstable benches or heavy pots before hiding Easter eggs around them. Removing any plants that can cause skin irritation or that have attractive but toxic blooms can help avoid problems, and let adults relax and enjoy the games.