Monday, April 2, 2012

A Tree in the House and an Egg in the Bush

Have you thought about how odd American traditions must seem to foreigners?  I recall an Indian student at Texas A&M inquiring of me about Christmas.  "You cut down trees and put them inside your houses... then you hang things on them and store presents underneath?" 
I can imagine his confusion regarding Easter as well.  We have invented plastic eggs so that we can stick candy inside them then hide them in random places for children to find.  Why eggs?  And whats up with the rabbit?  I like our traditions, but when you look at it from the outside, it does appear quite silly. 

6 comments:

David Learn said...

The rabbit is a holdover from the fertility goddess Oester, from whom we get the name of the holiday. Same with the egg.

Eggs are a symbol of birth and new beginnings, as are rabbits because of their multiplicative problems.

Early Christian missionaries to England at once saw the connection between the promise of renewal and fresh starts promised in the pagan religion of the Anglo-Saxons, and the fulfillment of that promise in Jesus, so they reinterpreted the tradition along christocentric lines.

Our traditions seem odd to people unfamiliar with them (and often to us as well), because it's easy to miss the socio-religious heritage that stands behind things like Easter eggs, Halloween costumes, and Christmas trees, all of which actually have strong Christian traditions that give them meaning.

Heather Paige said...

I figure that the egg tradition is a symbol of new life and the same with rabbits since they are so prolific. I'm sure many of these traditions spring from older pagan holiday traditions.
I have heard that the Christmas tree tadition started in Germany with Martin Luther.

Heather Paige said...
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Heather Paige said...
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Heather Paige said...

Thank you David Learn for your informative facebook response.

Heather Paige said...

Oh look you posted it here too.

I knew some of the traditions had roots in pagan holidays and I figured the connection of prolific bunnies and eggs correlated with the new life of spring. Have you heard about the big date of Easter debate in the early Catholic church? I have heard that Martin Luther was the first to put up a christmas tree. Do you know if there is truth to that? European Christmas traditions used to more closely resemble today's Halloween. Where does the dressing up on Halloween tradition come from?