Easter Traditions and Your Family

Easter is rapidly approaching with our shops laden with all kinds of chocolate animals and eggs, plus traditional hot cross buns, which have been on sale since Boxing Day. What family traditions have been passed down in your family?

Much will depend on your own family background and origins. Practicing Christians see Easter as a religious time, starting with the washing of the feet, the crucifixion of Christ and the Resurrection on Easter Sunday morning. Or your family may observe a secular Easter with an extended family gathering, an Easter egg hunt in the garden for the children or the sharing of traditional Easter foods such as yeast bread plaits studded with whole coloured eggs, or herrings or omelettes.

Why not utilise this short holiday to learn more about your family heritage by inviting senior family members to talk about Easter customs and traditions when they were children?

  • In Hungary, they might have been ‘sprinkled’ with water;
  • In Scandinavian nations, children have their faces rouged, dress up as witches and go from house to house, exchanging painted pussy-willow stems for sweets;
  • In Germany, trees are decorated with coloured eggs and displayed;
  • In Corfu, large earthenware pots are dropped from balconies to shatter in the streets below;
  •  In many parts of England, traditional Morris dancers take to the streets to celebrate the start of Spring and women bake Simnel cakes decorated with eleven balls of marzipan.

Many of these national customs are based on age-old pagan religions celebrating the emergence of Spring and the rebirth of the land after the cold, bitter winter, but the traditions have been adapted to the Christian festival of Easter.

How-ever you celebrate Easter, this year make a decision to learn about your family’s traditions and origins by inviting the grandparents and senior family members to exchange stories of family childhood stories. Use your smart phone to record the stories shared over a cup of tea or glass of wine and preserve them for future family generations.

Remember – time passes, memories fade… and we take our stories with us when we go!

Annie Payne, Personal Historian since 1988, History from the Heart www.historyfromtheheart.com.au

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