Easter is a very big deal in the U.S., and it's hardly just about religion. Slightly more than half of Americans say they will go to church on Easter, according to a National Retail Federation survey, while 87% of parents will have Easter baskets for their children on the holiday. (More than eight in 10 parents say they'll eat some of their kids' Easter candy as well.)
Here are some of the weird, wonderful, and surprising facts about celebrating and spending on Easter.
Total Easter Spending Is Rising Sharply
The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will collectively spend $17.3 billion on clothing, food, decorations, and other holiday items this Easter, up from $16.4 billion last year. We'll spend $2.4 billion strictly on candy for the holiday, up from an estimated $2.2 billion last Easter. Meanwhile, surveys conducted for the International Council of Shopping Centers show that millennials will spend more money on Easter than other age groups—an average of $177, compared with $127 among Gen Xers and $114 by Baby Boomers.
America Is Supposed to Be Eating Less Holiday Chocolate...
A few years ago, the market research firm Euromonitor forecast that chocolate sales for special seasons—Halloween, Christmas, Easter—would rise steadily in Europe and soar in Latin America due to a growing middle class of the largely Christian population that celebrates the two religious holidays. It's a different story in the U.S.A., however, where per-capita chocolate sales were forecast to decrease 9% between 2012 and 2017, "primarily due to obesity concerns over a product which is typically high in sugar."
...But Actual Chocolate Sales Have Risen in the U.S.
From 2009 to 2014, U.S. chocolate sales increased 24%, reaching a total of $21 billion, according to Mintel data. By 2019, the U.S. chocolate market is forecast to hit $25 billion.
There Are Easter Eggs That Cost Around $35,000
Some Easter Egg Prizes Are Worth a Whole Lot
No one's going to complain about finding candy inside an Easter egg. But some egg hunts sweeten the pot, with special eggs containing prizes like $500 college scholarships and season passes at ski resorts.
Not All Easter Egg Hunts Are for Kids
Things that were once the domain of children, like obstacle courses and gummy vitamins, are now being marketed to adults. So it seems inevitable there would be adult-only Easter egg hunts, like the one being held by a winery in Maryland on Friday, and one hosted by a restaurant and tavern in Chicago on Easter Sunday. They have special prizes beyond candy too, such as wine and gift certificates to local breweries.
Ham Is Actually Cheaper This Easter
Demand is always high at this time of year for the traditional Easter ham, but luckily for consumers, prices have been on the decline lately. Reuters recently noted that pork supplies hit an all-time high for the month of January, and Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicates that retail ham prices dropped between 7% and 20% year over year.
At Least 15 Peeps Arts Contests Are Taking Place Right Now
Peeps mania reaches a peak about this time every year, with new flavors, cocktails, products, and yes, artwork involving the super-sweet marshmallow candy. At some point, Peeps art became a thing—Peeps dioramas especially—and there are no fewer than 15 Peeps art shows and contests around the country. The diorama themes are all over the map, and this year at least two amazing creations are candy portraits of (you guessed it) Donald Trump.
Read next: 8 Signs That We May Have Reached Peak Peeps
Some Easter Candy Is Good for Your Teeth
The worst Easter candy for your teeth is hard candy like Jolly Ranchers and jaw breakers, according to dentists, because they're particularly high in sugar and could cause damage to teeth when kids bite down. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, strengthens enamel and is good for your teeth.
Dentists Say It's Better to Binge on Candy Than Take Your Time
One reason that hard candies like lollipops and Jolly Ranchers are bad is that they're rubbing up against your teeth for so long. As one pediatric dentist explains, "The longer the candy is in the mouth and the sugar is exposed to teeth, the more likely it is to cause damage."
Other than, you know, forgoing candy altogether, what's the best approach? "Eating a lot of candy all at once is better than spreading it out over days or weeks," another dentist says. "If you’re going to expose your teeth to acid, do it for as little time as possible."