Easter certainly looks a lot different than it did one year ago.
Churches are open again, and residents throughout the Tri-State Area will have the opportunity to attend services in person, something that was not possible last year as we were in the first couple of weeks of working through the restrictions and protocols that had been put into place as the effects of COVID-19 began to be felt in our region.
Everyone in the country was affected in one way or another.
That’s changing this year. And, while it will be a bit longer before we reach the point that the coronavirus pandemic is behind us, it has, finally, started to look just a little bit smaller in the rearview mirror.
That’s important to remember this weekend, especially for the 65 percent of Americans who identify themselves as being Christians. That number comes from WalletHub, which reminds us that Easter remains the most popular day for church attendance, followed by Christmas Eve and Mother’s Day.
This year, 28 percent of Americans plan to attend church in person on Easter Sunday, a total that still is lower than the 32 percent who said they participated in an online Easter service in 2020, the Washington, D.C.-based personal finance website reported.
Even as we work our way out of the pandemic, Americans are willing to spend money on Easter. It is projected we’ll spend $21.6 billion, or about $180 per person who is celebrating, this year. It’s estimated that $3.6 billion will be spent on new clothing, and $3 billion will be spent on candy, which makes sense, because 66 percent of parents plan to make baskets for their children, and 92 percent of Easter baskets will include chocolate.
Chocolate bunnies are the most popular Easter items, appearing in 58 percent of baskets. Projections call for 91 million of the rabbits to be sold this year.
And, in case you’ve ever wondered, 78 percent of Americans eat the ears of their bunnies first, with 11 percent each starting with either the tail or the paws.
Going along with all of those bunnies are the ubiquitous marshmallow Peeps. There seems to be no middle ground, either, when it comes to Peeps — you either like them or you don’t. And if you like them, you are not alone — more than 1.5 billion of the neon-colored creatures are consumed each Easter, and they are available in 23 flavors.
It should be pointed out, though, that Peeps are ranked as the sixth worst Easter treat by candystore.com. The Cadbury Creme Egg tops the list of the worst, followed by the Sour Patch Kids white chocolate bunny, the solid chocolate bunny, Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Puffs, Oreo Creme Eggs, Easter candy corn, marshmallow chicks and rabbits, chocolate crosses and generic jelly beans.
Gourmet and naturally flavored jelly beans, meanwhile, are ranked as the sixth-best Easter candy. Cadbury Mini Eggs top that list, and are followed by hollow chocolate bunnies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, foil-wrapped chocolate eggs, Mallow-Top Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, Kinder Joy Eggs, Robbins Eggs from Whoppers, Skittles-filled Easter Eggs and Hershey’s Fun-Sized candy bars with Easter wrappers.
There will be 16 billion jellybeans consumed for Easter, with cinnamon being the top flavor nationally, followed by black licorice and buttered popcorn, candystore.com reports. Those also are the top three flavors in Ohio. In West Virginia, buttered popcorn is first, followed by blueberry and cinnamon. In Pennsylvania, cinnamon is tops, followed by black licorice and blueberry.
In addition to all of that candy, we enjoy dyeing eggs. WalletHub says 79 percent of parents plan to decorate Easter eggs, and more than 10 million dyeing kits will be sold this year. Just about all of those colors will go on the 180 million eggs that will be sold during the season, a total that really boosts the economy.
Ohio, in fact, is the second-largest egg farming state in the nation. According to the Ohio Poultry Association, egg production in the state is responsible for the creation of 14,438 jobs and $559 million in annual earnings. The state’s total of 10 billion eggs produced each year is second in the nation.
Dipping eggs in those cups of color remains a popular family activity during the holiday, but doesn’t rank with making Easter dinner (53 percent), Easter egg hunts (52 percent) and eating candy (50 percent.)
Enjoy the weekend, and have a blessed Easter.
(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)