Before Chocolate Bunnies And Plastic Grass, Ten Pretty True Easter Traditions

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JPK Huson 1863

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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.
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Our holiday traditions in 2019 tend to be morphed and frequently wildly commercialized versions of some longggg forgotten celebration. We've pitched quite a few, maybe because it'd all be so much effort and our ancestors were nothing if not committed to putting huge energy into tradition. We've watered down, packaged and mass produced ancient ritual associated with holidays and gotten rid of most of the fun. Anyone remember the huge Easter Egg hunts? Ours was put on by the local VFW, WW1, WW2 and Korea vets ( Vietnam was still brewing ) in Tower City, Schuylkill County dyed thousands of eggs, marked those special ones you could find and get a prize, hid them over a few acres and invited the whole town.

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.

Happy Easter!
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connecticut yankee

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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.

Pitching Quoits is Homer’s first large-scale painting of the Civil War. It depicts a moment of leisure in a Union encampment. The game of quoits was ordinarily played with heavy metal rings, but the soldiers here improvise with readily available horseshoes as the seated figure in the center keeps score. The red tasseled caps, blue filigreed jackets, and baggy trousers identify the soldiers as members of the 5th New York Volunteer infantry, known as Duryee’s Zouaves...

https://www.harvardartmuseums.org/art/299837

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Carronade

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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.
Wouldn't "anyone who wasn't of the Christian faith" basically mean Jews? There would not seem to have been many people of other religions or avowed atheists strolling around France in those days.
 
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Mike Serpa

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Somebody mentioned quoits.
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"Our Presidents out of doors; Mr. Lincoln never missed an opportunity to join in a game of quoits," [Birch portrait of Lincoln] LOC - No date on this sketch.

Anyone recognize the the other Presidents?

Reginald B. Birch May 2, 1856 – June 17, 1943) was an English-American artist and illustrator. He was best known for his depiction of the titular hero of Frances Hodgson Burnett's 1886 novel Little Lord Fauntleroy, which started a craze in juvenile fashion. While his illustrated corpus has eclipsed his other work, he was also an accomplished painter of portraits and landscapes
 

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Wouldn't "anyone who wasn't of the Christian faith" basically mean Jews? There would not seem to have been many people of other religions or avowed atheists strolling around France in those days.
Actually no, from what I have read on the French, there were many movements such as Istanbul Turks, or mainly Islam seeking their education in France. Now 'gypsies' also roamed at large across Europe. Their predominant beliefs were a mixture of 'devil's brew'. Many could find safe pasture and orchard grove in the fields and among the hedgerows, I guess until Easter, which seemed to have turned into a day of reckoning. Catholics? Ah, probably a majority.
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JPK Huson 1863

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Wouldn't "anyone who wasn't of the Christian faith" basically mean Jews? There would not seem to have been many people of other religions or avowed atheists strolling around France in those days.

I'm guessing it was yet another dandy excuse to shove Jewish people around. It's just such a bizarre and overt act of aggression I flinched and declined to say so. You spend a lot of time flinching poking around history.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Quoits! So many things drop from our radar through history we really would need a translator were we to go back there and try to converse with our ancestors. It sounds like a very common game- and must have gone the way of so many others we never heard of pretty quickly. When I was a kid there was always, always a running game of something you could go find, neighborhood kids at the park or playground or rec. We had 20 varieties of tag, kickball, dodge ball ( played to leave a mark ), capture the flag etc. Quoits would have been a welcome addition.

Of course, some may not have been missed. Found one from 1860 called ' Pinch Your Nose '. Guessing that got old in a big hurry.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Oh wow that was very interesting, love reading about people’s traditions, although a smack to the head doesn’t sound to pleasent by the French! There is a big Easter egg hunt planned over at the fields here for the whole place to join in on Sunday. We will have an Easter egg hunt at home!

Communities still hold them? That's the best news I've heard all week, thank you! I'm not big on pining for the ' old days ' but can't help thinking how little we now connect with each other. Had the best childhood ever, outside, running flat out from dawn to dinner, coming home with skinned knees and clothing that went right into the wash. My kids didn't have that or see anything community oriented like egg hunts, town picnics or parades. It just wasn't there. Good to know it's different elsewhere.
 
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Steph-GB

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AHhh yes we still do all of the community stuff here.. we also hold a monthly out door cinema with picnics down at the fields. We have the monthly markets where the whole town gets shut off and all the market stools come out, have the usual fetes and festivals and everything. You can look out and all kids will be out playing all day long .. there’s always kids playing football and stuff on the big green area next to my house.. parents all look out for each other’s kids.. and kids do indeed knock on the door still asking if your children will come out to play!

But saying all this.. none of this happens where I grew up.. that was a busy town where everyone rushed around ignoring one another .. where as here everyone knows each other and you can say hello 20 times just walking to the shop and back! Best thing we did was move to a country town!
 

JPK Huson 1863

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The first print image search results pointing to Iliaco from the Tarocchi di Mantegna, c.1465

Also, Eostre

Still represented in modern tarot as the Queen of Pentacles. Eostre, goddess of the fertility of the earth.

She's still around? There's something a little jarring about her place among tarot symbols after gracing a Christian festival with her name ( although you just know no one consulted her before swiping it ). There's terrific topic, what names or terms fictional or otherwise now are so far removed from who they were no one remembers their origin? Like Pontiac. As a kid it meant a car despite Chief Pontiac's profile on the hood- just a car, not an Odawa chief with an entire war named for him. Anyone born after the car stopped being produced remembers neither.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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AHhh yes we still do all of the community stuff here.. we also hold a monthly out door cinema with picnics down at the fields. We have the monthly markets where the whole town gets shut off and all the market stools come out, have the usual fetes and festivals and everything. You can look out and all kids will be out playing all day long .. there’s always kids playing football and stuff on the big green area next to my house.. parents all look out for each other’s kids.. and kids do indeed knock on the door still asking if your children will come out to play!

But saying all this.. none of this happens where I grew up.. that was a busy town where everyone rushed around ignoring one another .. where as here everyone knows each other and you can say hello 20 times just walking to the shop and back! Best thing we did was move to a country town!

I'm spending way too much time on this thread- you're all just so interesting. That's more than awesome- our local rec features crickets these days. It's nothing to do with ' kids these days '. They get complained about, how they just won't get away from the computer. BET it would take one knock on the door to come out and play for that game controller to start collecting dust. Kids are kids- it's just a matter of pointing them to a ball, giving them a field, yard or lot and letting them go.

IF you happen to take photos of that egg hunt, feel free to share.... :angel: And don't tell anyone where you live or the population will increase over night. We'll pack awfully quickly.
 
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Steph-GB

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Haha yes here is nice and very child orientated.. I run an after school club week days and do baking, sewing, crafts etc with kids and it’s great fun. We also have the cafe I also work at which is located in the fields where there’s also a park.. and they run kids activities through the week also.. you can go in and do toddler baking etc.. there is a dance studio where they do ballet and tap dancing. Darcy my eldest daughter (she’s 8) does majorettes every Thursday evening also and we have the yearly carnivals that go around week after week to surrounding areas. And still got the usual brownies and scouts etc! There is a skate park and basketball court, cricket pitch .. all child orientated and encouraged.. there is always kids there every day playing!

Haha everyone coming to the U.K. suddenly!! More the merrier!! Always something for everyone to do here! It’s nice and sunny today and we are meant to have a mini heat wave over the weekend so perfect weather for the kids to be out on an egg hunt, although Darcy also got an invite to go somewhere that’s holding an egg hunt tomorrow as well .. so she’s gets to do two hunts haha!!
 

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Quoits. Passed down to us, it became pitching pennies. All we needed was a wall, or a crack, and a penny, and a few spare moments to crouch and cast, inspect and claim. So how many like roasted rabbit?
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JPK Huson 1863

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Quoits. Passed down to us, it became pitching pennies. All we needed was a wall, or a crack, and a penny, and a few spare moments to crouch and cast, inspect and claim. So how many like roasted rabbit?
Lubliner.

Is that what it became? Thank you! Now that I've bumped into the game, seems to show up frequently- it seemed so weird something that common could have vanished completely. Well, pitching pennies seems to have gone the same way. Remember adults playing it, too, when I was a kid- could not tell you the last time I saw a game. Like 3 decades. Ouch.
 

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Is that what it became? Thank you! Now that I've bumped into the game, seems to show up frequently- it seemed so weird something that common could have vanished completely. Well, pitching pennies seems to have gone the same way. Remember adults playing it, too, when I was a kid- could not tell you the last time I saw a game. Like 3 decades. Ouch.
Gaming machines, you know how it is!!
Lubliner.
 
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