Thursday, March 29, 2018

Where Did 11 Easter Traditions Originate?

Easter Egg, Easter, Pussy Willow, Egg  We all have those family traditions at Easter time from dying eggs, to Easter baskets but where did all these traditions come from?

We all love to dye eggs different colors.  No one is sure exactly when it began but it has been speculated that this tradition goes back to ancient times.  Often people gave colored eggs as gifts welcoming the spring.

Then there is the story of the Easter bunny going hippity hop but the idea of the bunny again came from agent times but it is thought that the idea of the egg laying rabbit came to America with the German immigrants in the 1700's.

Don't forget the hallow chocolate rabbits everyone loves to see in their Easter baskets.  The reason the candy rabbits are hallow is a safe guard for your teeth.  If those huge rabbits  were solid, you'd break your teeth because they'd be so thick and solid, like a brick.

Did you every wonder about Easter Baskets?  they come from the German immigrants again.  They believed that you if you wanted the egg laying hare to stop by, you needed to build a nest.  The nest evolved into the basket we see now.

Of course, if you grew up in certain places, you'd have eaten hot cross buns, those sweet buns with the sign of the cross cut in the top.  I remember eating them when I lived in Australia.  No one is sure when they started but it's thought that hot cross buns began in the 12th century when a monk made the sign of the cross in his buns on a Good Friday.  The earliest record comes from the 1730's in Poor Robin's almanac.

Somewhere along the way, a superstition arose where it was believed that if you wore new clothing on Easter because it would bring good luck for the rest of the year.  In the 1800 parishioners from various churches paraded down fifth avenue after services let out.  The tradition continues to today although the term "finery" has changed over the years.

It is said that when Mary opened Jesus's tomb at sunrise on the Easter and the tomb was empty so many churches hold sunrise services so people can remember.  The first record of a sunrise service shows that a group of young men gathered at a church in Saxony, Germany in 1732. The following year, the whole congregation met for the sunrise service.  the idea spread and within fifty years, sunrise services had made it to the United States.

The tradition of having ham at Easter has been around since at least the sixth century in Germany.  Hunters would go after pigs in the fall and allow them to age over the winter so come spring, pork was one of the first meats ready to eat in the spring. 

In Bermuda, they celebrate Easter by flying kites.  Apparently someone flew a kite to demonstrate how Jesus ascended into heaven.  The idea caught on so now this has become a tradition on the island.

Then there is egg knocking an event dating back to medieval Europe.  Two people, each with an egg, tap the eggs end to end until one cracks and the other survives.  This became a big thing beginning in Marksville, Louisiana where people gather by the courthouse to egg knock until one person is left.  It is so important that some families feed their chickens special foods in the hopes the shells become stronger.

Finally is Osterbrunnen which is a celebration in Germany where people decorate wells with greenery and Easter eggs.  This particular tradition is only about a century old but it has grown so over 200 villages participate including one in Michigan.  This tradition began as a way to honor water and Easter.

So now you know where eleven Easter traditions originated.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

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