The Little-Known Black History Of The Easter Holiday

scrabble letters that say happy easter
Leslie Grover-Taylor
March 28, 2024

The Easter holiday is a special time for Christians around the globe, but for Black people, it’s also a time with deep connections to Black history. Here are three interesting facts about these connections.

#1 Easter’s Origins: While Easter itself is a mashup of Jewish and pagan practices, it was a Black pope, Victor I, who created Resurrection Sunday. Victor I standardized the practice of celebrating on Sunday. But he made another part of Easter happen, too.

#2 Dressing Up: Saint Victor I also created the tradition of wearing special outfits for Easter. Victor I mandated newly baptized Christians to wear all-white linen garments during this time. Eventually the practice evolved into the practice of dressing in one’s best clothes to attend Easter services.

# 3 The Easter Speech: Rooted in Black tradition, the Easter speech was meant to train Black children to be excellent orators and public speakers. Icons like Oprah and MLK learned how to speak comfortably to an audience by reciting speeches in front of the congregation on Easter Sunday.

Easter may be a time for celebration now, but what if we kept reimagining how to honor it? What would an Easter that encourages resurrecting the lost parts of our history, sharing sweet stories of our ancestors, and dressing up our fight for freedom in its best action look like?

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