I thought to look into another tradition that is well known in Europe. May Day and the background of it. It has both Christian and Pagan background.
The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman Goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane. Many pagan celebrations were abandoned or Christianized during the process of conversion in Europe. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the Maypole and crowning of the Queen of the May. The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. In the Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary’s month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
A maypole is a tall wooden pole erected as a part of various European folk festivals, particularly on May Day. There were 2 types of dances preformed with the Maypole.
Circle Dance Dancers perform circle dances around a tall pole which is decorated with garlands, painted stripes, flowers, flags and other emblems. The circular dance is regarded as the most common and ancient Normand is thought by some to have Germanic pagan fertility symbolism, although there is a lack of evidence to support this. The circular dance is traditionally performed in the spring around the festival of May Day, but in Sweden it is during the midsummer festivities.
Ribbon Dance Dancers gather in a circle, each holding a coloured ribbon attached to a much smaller pole. As the dance commences the ribbons are intertwined and plaited either on to the pole itself or into a web around the pole. The dancers may then retrace their steps exactly in order to unravel the ribbons. This style of maypole dancing originates in the 18th century, and is derived from traditional and ‘art’ dance forms popular in Italy and France. These were exported to the London stage and reached a large audience, becoming part of the popular performance repertoire. Adopted at a large teacher training institution, the ribbon maypole dance then spread across much of England, and is now regarded as the most ‘traditional’ of May Day’s traditional characteristics.
in Norse paganism, which is the best attested form of Germanic paganism, cosmological views held that the universe was a world tree, known as Yggdrasil.
were a remnant of the Germanic reverence for sacred trees, as there is evidence for various sacred trees and wooden pillars that were venerated by the pagans across much of Germanic Europe, including Thor’s Oak and the Irminsul.
I had my friend look into the history of the Easter Bunny and this is the article he wrote that I will share with you.
Origin of the Easter Bunny
Researched by: Thomas Niemoller
Easter is believed to originate from the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter as a christian holiday marks the end of lent. Lent is a forty day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. This is done in celebration of the resurrection of Christ.
The Easter Bunny or Easter Rabbit/Hare first originated in the 1500’s (early 16th century). The first edible Easter eggs were first seen in Germany and were made from pastry and sugar. Easter was introduced to America when German settlers arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch sometime in the 18th century. The arrival of the Easter Bunny at this time was looked upon almost as highly as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
The original tradition of Easter was for children to build nests for the Easter bunny to lay its eggs in. Children often built these nests out of old bonnets and hats, they would then need to hide the nest in a secluded area of the house. The way Easter worked then would be if the children were good that year (similar to hanging stockings on Christmas), The Easter bunny would come and lay its brightly colored eggs in the nests that the children built. The Eastern nests later evolved into the modern day Easter basket after the tradition spread.
The true reason why the coloring of eggs us unknown many believe that the coloring of the eggs symbolized fertility and the coming of spring with the many colors of flowers blooming at the time of year.
And here is an Easter Poem I found.
At eastertime the fairies Enjoy the warmth of spring, The budding of the flowers, And all the birds that sing!
There’s magic in the sunshine, A soft and gentle breeze, Sweet butterflies that flitter by, And leaves upon the trees!
Come join them in their spring-fest; Celebrate with mirth; Shake off the chills of winter, And watch the world give birth!
Awake, thou wintry earth –
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh
Your ancient gladness!
~Thomas Blackburn, “An Easter Hymn”
And Spring arose on the garden fair, Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere; And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast rose from the dreams of its wintry rest. ~Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Sensitive Plant”