Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
Pagan gods and goddesses of the sun are too numerous to list, those in charge of sunrise appearing in most cultures across the globe. Image is from 1556, a god making sure the world had a new beginning. ' Easter ', the word seems to have been adopted because the Saxon goddess Eastre was on duty around the time this festival made an appearance in the Christian world. Sunrise, new life. Easter.
These are all over the place historically and geographically but so is Easter.
Then you went home, dyed your own eggs with as much mess and vinegar as a family could muster, got up the next day to your chocolate and jelly beans and went off to a sunrise service so pretty it's a clear memory 50 years later. And the world stopped to celebrate. Find a gas station open on Sunday, much less Easter? Unthinkable. Really, unthinkable. It was Easter.
For all the frilled, itchy socks, white straw hats, sunrise services, ham and chocolate ours was still unrecognizable from various genesis.
1. The pagan festival and goddess over seeing it surrounding all these new beginnings was probably named for stormy weather, not the blue skies welcoming Spring. The weather! Generally a time where seasonal climates clash, the original word for storms of Spring, ' yel ' doesn't sound anything like Eastre so I'll just have to trust it.
2. " Goose Dancing ", a couple centuries ago, couples in Italy at Easter exchanged clothing. Men wore their girlfirend's dresses, girls wore pants. I can't get a good read on what happens next, seems to be the just, plain fun of visiting houses dressed this way. No idea why it was an Easter tradition.
3. A custom somewhere in France in past centuries was, unless you paid a fee, anyone at all could walk up to anyone who wasn't of the Christian faith and smack them on the side of the head, on Easter Day. You just know a few brawls erupted. The idea was that you were allowed to express annoyance when anyone didn't share your religious beliefs. Interesting.
4. Peasants in Russia carried red dyed eggs in their hands for four days, beginning with Easter Sunday. Predictably there were gold-foiled eggs for the gentry. Four days! Carrying an egg. Upside seems to have been that any peasant could demand a civil greeting from someone ranking them on the social scale, even a king. But you had to have your red egg with you.
5. Warwickshire, England. If a young man could chase and catch a hare by running it down on Easter morning, his reward from whichever big wig owned the local manor was 100 eggs, the head of a calf and one grout. That was 4 pence, roughly 7 or 8 cents. Inflation makes that look worse than it sounds.
6. In the early church, clergy would introduce a ball- a game ball apparently representative of new life on Easter and kick it around during Easter service. Games continued after church, high-ups attending, not participating. I just found the word qouits attached to a game, when Union and Confederate pickets challenged each other. Found it again, qouits being played as a traditional after math to Easter services.
7. Edward I gave 450 golden eggs to his household at Easter. No idea if these were composed of gold or just gilt eggs, it's a better story if they were solid gold.
8. Egg tossing by knights, egg rolling by generations, egg coloring and cracking and giving are all part of a tradition beginning with a traditional legend. When angels broke open Christ's tomb that morning, a dove was startled by the bright light and spilled her eggs from the nest. These turned into red eggs symbolizing the blood of the cross, blue, for the heavens, green for new life and purple, for royalty. Ok, it's unlikely but explains things as well anything.
9. In England and Ireland there existed the belief the sun danced on Easter morning. No one was able to prove it because no one can look at the sun without going blind but it's a nice belief.
10. ' Maundy Thursday ' is called that because a basket, a ' maund ' was used for a customary distribution of gifts to the poor. We were big on alms for the poor, Christmas Eve another traditional day to remember them.