White House Easter festivities: The annual egg roll and other traditions

The annual egg roll has been a tradition at the White house since 1878. Thousands of children gather on the Monday after Easter to participate in the event.

The Easter holiday makes for one of the largest public events at the White House every year. On the day after Easter, thousands of children gather on the White House lawn for a slew of festivities, including the popular Easter egg roll. The day is known as Easter Monday and the egg roll is always hosted on this day.

Here is everything you need to know about the festivities that take place at the White House each year following the holy holiday.


The Easter egg roll is a White House tradition that dates back many years. The first official White House hosted Easter egg roll was in 1878 and was started by President Rutherford B. Hayes. 

Prior to the egg roll taking place on the White House lawn, many children participated in the day’s events on Capitol Hill’s South Lawn. Children learned the hills of the White House would be easy to roll their eggs down and President Hayes instructed his guards to let them in. Soon, children and their parents covered the lawn and enjoyed the festivities that grew into traditions.

The event has been going strong ever since though some years it was canceled or moved to another location.

In 1942, children went back to Capitol Hill due to WWII. In 1946, 1947 and 1948 President Truman canceled the event. In 1949 and 1952 the South Lawn was under construction which hindered the event again. In 1959, 1964, 1978 and 2001, the White House egg roll was canceled due to weather. In 2020 and 2021, the egg roll was canceled by President Trump and then President Biden due to COVID-19.

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During the event, children roll painted hard-boiled eggs through the grass, hoping not to crack the egg, according to WhiteHouseHistory.org.


The White House Easter has become such a sought-after event that the way to get invited is through sheer luck.

There is an online lottery that takes place to gain entry to the event. The public has to apply, and the winners receive tickets to the White House Easter event.

As a keepsake, children are give a wooden egg engraved with the theme for the year they attended. The wooden egg tradition was started with President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan. Past keepsakes included certificates of participation and plastic eggs with a note inside from First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

While the Easter egg roll is the main event hosted at the White House on Easter Monday, there are numerous other traditions that have been established over the years. In addition to the egg roll, there are typically lots of games, live entertainment and story times for Easter, according to the National Park Service. The day also usually has a theme and lots of appearances by special guests.

Egg toss and egg picking are among other traditions and games played at the event. Richard Nixon’s wife, First Lady Pat Nixon, was the only First Lady to host an egg hunt with real eggs. Past first ladies opted out due to the horrible smell in the days following of losing eggs. 

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