A Tisket, A Tasket
Surprise - we didn't start out with the Easter basket! Easter goodies were handed out, and sometimes even tossed.
The tradition of giving eggs goes back thousands of years, at least to the ancient Egyptian culture, where eggs were associated with fertility and considered a celebration of birth and life. Other civilizations followed the same belief, including the Romans and Greeks. As the centuries passed, the rabbit as a fertility symbol also became tied into the Christian celebration of Easter, which carried on the festival of re-birth. Hence, the eventual appearance of chocolate bunnies.
As far back as the medieval era, Easter would see the priest in church, tossing an egg to one of the choirboys. It would then be tossed from member to member, until the clock struck twelve, and whoever was holding it, then got to keep the egg.
The actual giving of Easter treats is thought to have arrived in America with German immigrants of the 1700s. At that time, a cap was left out, lined with straw, and in the morning it would be filled with the traditional eggs. The basket as a container would not appear until well into the 19th century, but it would retain its similarity to a nest, with straw or shredded paper.
Some of the more interesting additions over the years include jellybeans in the 1930s, which closely resembled the shape of eggs, and now you can actually buy edible candy "grass".