The Origin and History of Easter Rituals.

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As the holiest season in the Christian calendar, Easter has become a time of great signifigance among superstitious people in all Western countries. Easter was originally a pagan festival in praise of the Germanic Goddess of Spring, Ostera, and it is from this more ancient tradition that such customs as the eating of Easter eggs ultimately derive. Timed to coincide with the first Sunday following the full moon of the vernal equinox, Easter is now marked by a host of rituals and customs that combine Christian and pagan elements.

Among the most familiar of these superstitions is the idea that the sun dances as it appears on Easter morning to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. If looked at through a darkened lens, it is said that on Easter morning the sun bears the imprint of a lamb and flag, two images which have symbolic associations in Christian mythology. This is not the only weather myth connected with the day, however, for it is also claimed that a wind that blows on Easter Day will continue to blow throughout the year, while a shower of rain that day promises a good crop of grass, but little hay.

Most people know the old custom of wearing new clothes on Easter Day, or at least the tradition of the ‘Easter bonnet’. This practice originated in the habit of wearing the same set of clothes throughout Lent, finally discarding them for a new set on Easter Day itself. Those who do not wear at least one new item of clothing on Easter Day risk their existing clothing being soiled by birds or, worse, being spat upon by passing dogs or having their eyes pecked out by crows.

Children born on Easter Day are deemed especially fortunate, and holy water saved from the Easter service is said to be particularly effective as a cure for a wide range of physical ills. Less well-known is an ancient German superstition that rabbits lay eggs on Easter Day (hence the widely recognized figure of the Easter Bunny).

The chocolate Easter eggs of modern times, incidentally, hark back to the hard-boiled eggs that used to be dyed red in memory of Christ’s blood and were given to children in former times to preserve their health over the ensuing twelve months. The egg imagery is further passed down to the present time through the various egg-rolling rituals and egg-hunting games still carried out in many rural areas; all were meant to ensure good fortune in the coming months.


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