My East Tennessee Easter Traditions

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Photo courtesy: © Superbass / CC-BY-SA-4.0
Photo courtesy: © Superbass / CC-BY-SA-4.0

Article written by Lyssa McKenry.

I don’t know about you all, but Easter is one of my favorite holidays! We not only get to spend time with our family, eat good food and hunt eggs, but we also celebrate our Christ rising from the dead! I have always been fascinated about the history of American traditions, because when you really think about it, our traditions seem random. I mean, coloring eggs then hiding them for kids to find…ham and different concoctions of eggs are staples at Easter lunch…the Easter bunny! While I am certainly not complaining about these fun traditions, I often wonder how we arrived here. So, here are some fun facts about how our Easter traditions have been shaped through history and other cultures.

Ham
Who does not love ham? No really, you need to point them out so we can have a serious discussion about this. I have always enjoyed ham at the holidays, but I did not start to LOVE ham until I tried Kentucky Legend hams. Oh my goodness! You need to try this ham! Anyway, back to the historical facts. This is going to blow your mind- ham actually comes from a pagan rite of spring. The pig symbolizes luck, yes the creature that rolls around in mud and eats a lot. On the other ham, I mean hand, lamb relates to Christ, “the Lamb of God”, and is associated with the Passover lamb. So does this mean eating ham makes you a pagan? I don’t think so.

The Easter Bunny
As a child, it always disturbed me that grownups would dress up as a bunny, Santa, etc to impress children. It still bothers me. The rabbit is known to be a particularly fertile creature, which represents the coming of spring and new life. This symbol is thought to be of pre-Christian origin, although many Christian cultures have adopted this tradition. Some historians think that the Easter Bunny tradition was brought to America by German settlers. Anyway, I hope you are able to get some good pictures of the children in your life with the Easter Bunny. It is not looking too promising over here with my two year old. She comes by it naturally though. My pictures with Santa as a child look remarkably similar to hers from last year- we share a disturbing look while sitting on the lap of a stranger dressed in a red suit.

Eggs
Eggs are associated rebirth, immorality, and rejuvenation. Early on in Christian cultures, eggs were forbidden during Lent. So after not eating something for 40 days, it becomes very exciting to add it back to your diet. The eggs were often decorated for the celebration. The egg can also be perceived as a symbol of Christ’s Resurrection from the tomb. The custom of decorating eggs can be traced back to Latin and Oriental churches as they often decorated eggs in red for celebrations.

When our children are wondering around looking for eggs in the yard, this is symbolic of searching for actual hen’s eggs. If you grew up on a farm as a child you were probably sent out to collect eggs in the morning. (Of course you always had that one hen that was a rebel, she liked to lay her eggs in tall grass which made your job that much more difficult. You took this as a personal affront and did not cry when that hen became dinner!) So you can understand when eggs are compared to hunting for treasure.

Happy Easter! May you and your family be blessed during this celebration of life. What are some of your Easter traditions?

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