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However, in Europe there may have been a goddess called Eostre , whose name gives us both Ostara and Easter.

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The Venerable Bede describes Eostre as a goddess with fertility associations, which loosely connects her to both rabbits and eggs. Author Jacob Grimm, of Grimm's fairy tales, suggested that eggs were a symbol of early European Paganism. In some early cultures, the nocturnal hare was actually considered a symbol of the moon. In addition to feeding at night, the hare's gestation period is approximately 28 days, which is the same length as a full lunar cycle. In European folklore, the rabbit connection to eggs is one based on confusion.

In the wild, hares birth their young in what is known as a form—basically, a nest for bunnies. When the hares abandoned a form, it was sometimes taken over by plovers, who would then lay their eggs in it. The locals would then find eggs in the hare's form. The character of the "Easter bunny" first appeared in 16th-century German writings, which said that if well-behaved children built a nest out of their caps or bonnets, they would be rewarded with colored eggs. According to History. Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs.

Eventually, the custom spread across the U. Since the beginning, humans have been emotionally and economically tied with forests and trees.


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During holidays, trees play an important part in our social and private traditions. A tree is part of many people's holiday season. Cutting your own tree, selecting one at the local lot, or bringing in a living tree are all part of modern family traditions. To many, the beginning of the holiday season is decorating a tree. The aroma, beauty, and special adventure of having a tree is sensed by all in the home.

Having a tree for the Christmas-time holidays is a relatively new tradition in America. Christmas trees have not always been associated with the winter holidays across the world. The roots no pun intended of tree use can be traced back before the birth of Jesus Christ to early Egyptians who would bring palms indoor as symbols of eternal life. Ancient Jewish religious feasts used decorations made of tree boughs.


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In the Western world, most experts consider our use of trees during the winter holidays as derived from Rome. The Romans exchanged tree boughs with friends for luck. The Roman winter festival was celebrated by decorating the house with tree boughs and greenery.

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Trees were paraded around with candles and trinkets attached to the branches. Many Christian traditions in the home were borrowed from older pagan celebrations. Pope Gregory I around AD told churchmen to encourage harmless folk customs, like the use of greenery and trees, where Christian interpretations could be made. Boniface in the 's encouraged pagan nature worshipers to stay out of the dark forest and take a tree indoors to worship in the light and warmth of the one true God.

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It was believed that Mithra, an infant god, was born of a rock. In the early years of Christianity , Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention date for his birth a fact Puritans later pointed out in order to deny the legitimacy of the celebration. Although some evidence suggests that his birth may have occurred in the spring why would shepherds be herding in the middle of winter?

History of Christmas

It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia.

Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger. By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated.

By the Middle Ages , Christianity had, for the most part, replaced pagan religion. The poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand their best food and drink. If owners failed to comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize them with mischief. In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe.

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When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in , they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday. The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in , were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell.

As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From to , the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident. After the American Revolution , English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas.

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Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia. But what about the s peaked American interest in the holiday?

An Ancient Holiday

The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil. During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season. This catalyzed certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly.

The family was also becoming less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotional needs of children during the early s.