You may have participated in many Easter egg hunts, but have you ever participated in an Easter egg roll? Well, you might want to take your children or grandchildren to the most famous egg roll–the White House Easter Egg Roll annually held on the South lawn the Monday after Easter Sunday!
Eggs have long been associated with the pagan feast of Eostre as a symbol of rebirth of the land in the spring season. When the Christian celebration of Christ’s resurrection became merged with the spring celebration of Eostre, the rolling of eggs down hillsides became symbolic of the rolling away of the rock from Christ’s tomb before his resurrection. This tradition was eventually brought to the New World by European settlers.
Thus, rolling eggs was not a new activity for Easter festivities.In the 1870’s , the egg-rolling activities gained popularity –the first egg rolls were primarily family affairs held during President Andrew Johnson’s tenure. The original location for this event was on the grounds of the United States Capitol. Families came to the Capitol to roll hard-boiled dyed eggs and have all-day picnics. The egg-roll activity of 1876 took such a toll on the Capitol grounds, which were already under-financed for landscaping, that Congress passed a law forbidding the Capitol grounds to be used as a children’s playground.
In 1877, it rained on Easter Monday so no one put the new law to the test. But in 1878, when the new law was going to be enforced, President Rutherford B. Hayes offered to let children roll eggs on the White House lawn. He and his wife Lucy began a tradition for successive presidents right up through our current president. The annual event has only been cancelled a few times for bad weather and during World War I and II.
This event for children ages 13 and younger and their parents is hosted by the President and First Lady of the United States. It has become the largest event held at the White House, including live entertainment, sports, interactive cooking demonstrations and of course, the Easter Egg Roll race where children push their eggs through the grass with long-handled spoons. Additional activities include appearances by White House personalities in Easter Bunny costumes and celebrities from stage, film and television, speeches and book-reading by cabinet secretaries and exhibits of artist decorated eggs. The event promotes healthy and active living, and attendees are given special presidential wooden eggs with the President and First Lady’s signatures.