Labor Day

Labor Day in the United States of America is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the development, growth, endurance, strength, security, prosperity, productivity, laws, sustainability, persistence, structure, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday.

Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor. “Labor Day” was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, which organized the first parade in New York City. In 1887, Oregon was the first state of the United States to make it an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty states in the United States officially celebrated Labor Day.

Canada’s Labor Day is also celebrated on the first Monday of September. More than 80 countries celebrate International Workers’ Day on May 1 – the ancient European holiday of May Day.

Unofficial end of summer

Labor Day is called the “unofficial end of summer” because it marks the end of the cultural summer season. Many take their two-week vacations during the two weeks ending Labor Day weekend. Many fall activities, such as school and sports, begin about this time.

In the United States, many school districts resume classes around the Labor Day holiday weekend (see First day of school). Some begin the week before, making Labor Day weekend the first three-day weekend of the school calendar, while others return the Tuesday following Labor Day, allowing families one final vacation before the school year begins. Many districts across the Midwest are opting to begin school after Labor Day.

In the U.S. state of Virginia, the amusement park industry has successfully lobbied for legislation requiring most school districts in the state to have their first day of school after Labor Day, in order to give families another weekend to visit amusement parks in the state. The relevant statute has been nicknamed the “Kings Dominion law” after one such park.

In Minnesota the State Fair ends on Labor Day. Under state law public schools normally do not begin until after the holiday. Allowing time for school children to show 4-H projects at the Fair has been given as one reason for this timing.

In U.S. sports, Labor Day weekend marks the beginning of many fall sports. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) teams usually play their first games that weekend and the National Football League (NFL) traditionally play their kickoff game the Thursday following Labor Day. The Southern 500 NASCAR auto race has been held on Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina from 1950 to 2003 and since 2015. At Indianapolis Raceway Park, the National Hot Rod Association hold their finals of the NHRA U.S. Nationals drag race that weekend. Labor Day is the middle point between weeks one and two of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships held in Flushing Meadows, New York.

In fashion, Labor Day is (or was) considered the last day when it is acceptable to wear white or seersucker.

In big cities, people try to go outside and enjoy beaches and barbecues over the Labor Day Weekend. There are also numerous events and activities organized in the cities.

(Information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

MEMORIAL DAY

Memorial Day (or less commonly called Decoration Day) is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering and honoring people who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. The holiday is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May. Memorial Day was previously observed on May 30 from 1868 to 1970. In 2019, Memorial Day falls on May 27, 2019.

Memorial Day is considered the unofficial start of the summer vacation season in the United States, while Labor Day marks its end on the first Monday of September.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day, particularly to honor those who died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

Two other days celebrate those who serve or have served in the U.S. military: Veterans Day, which celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans; and Armed Forces Day, a minor U.S. remembrance celebrated earlier in May, specifically honoring those currently serving in the U.S. military.

History

The history of Memorial Day in the United States is so controversial that it constitutes an area of research. At Columbus [Georgia] State University there is a Center for Memorial Day Research. It, together with the University of Mississippi’s Center for Civil War Research, are excellent starting points for investigating the topic.

1870 Decoration Day parade in St. Paul, Minnesota

The practice of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is an ancient custom. Soldiers’ graves were decorated in the U.S. before and during the American Civil War.

Some believe that an annual cemetery decoration practice began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the “memorial day” idea. Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries are still held on a Sunday in late spring or early summer in some rural areas of the American South, notably in the mountain areas. In cases involving a family graveyard where remote ancestors, as well as those who died more recently, are buried, this may take on the character of an extended family reunion to which some people travel hundreds of miles. People gather, put flowers on graves, and renew contacts with relatives and others. There often is a religious service and a picnic-like “dinner on the grounds”, the traditional term for a potluck meal at a church.

21st century

The United States Marine Band on Memorial Day

Memorial Day endures as a holiday which most businesses observe because it marks the unofficial beginning of summer. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) advocated returning to the original date, although the significance of the date is tenuous.

In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, asking people to stop and remember at 3:00 PM.

On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.

Across the United States, the central event is attending one of the thousands of parades held on Memorial Day in large and small cities. Most of these feature marching bands and an overall military theme with the Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard and Veteran service members participating along with military vehicles from various wars.

(Information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo (pronounced [ˈsiŋko ðe ˈmaʝo] in Latin America, Spanish for “Fifth of May”) is an annual celebration held on May 5. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza.[ The victory of the smaller Mexican force against a larger French force was a boost to morale for the Mexicans. A year after the battle, a larger French force defeated Zaragoza at the Second Battle of Puebla, and Mexico City soon fell to the invaders.

In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico. More popularly celebrated in the United States than Mexico, the date has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture. These celebrations began in California, where they have been observed annually since 1863. The day gained nationwide popularity in the 1980s thanks especially to advertising campaigns by beer and wine companies. Today, Cinco de Mayo generates beer sales on par with the Super Bowl.

In Mexico, the commemoration of the battle continues to be mostly ceremonial, such as through military parades or battle reenactments. The city of Puebla marks the event with an arts festival, a festival of local cuisine, and re-enactments of the battle.

Cinco de Mayo is sometimes mistaken for Mexico’s Independence Day—the most important national holiday in Mexico—which is celebrated on September 16, commemorating the Cry of Dolores, which initiated the war of Mexican independence from Spain.

In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is widely interpreted as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with substantial Mexican-American populations.


Today, revelers mark the occasion with parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional foods such as tacos and mole poblano. Some of the largest festivals are held in Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.

(Information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

How to Dye Easter Eggs

Learn how to dye the prettiest Easter eggs with these easy tips and tricks. But first, you’ll make hard boiled eggs. Then have some fun trying different special effects!

How to Dye Easter Eggs: The Basics

  • To start, cover a table with layers of old newspaper to soak up any spills.
  • Create a drying rack by sticking pins into a sheet of thick foam board.
  • For colorfast egg dyes, mix 7-8 drops of food coloring into 1 cup of hot water. Stir in 1/4 cup vinegar. For more intense colors, use small amounts of professional-quality food coloring gels or pastes, available at craft, cake decorating and kitchen supply stores.
  • If you’re doing multi-colored eggs, let them dry thoroughly between coats of dye.
  • Store finished and dried eggs in empty egg cartons.

Easy Special Effects

  • Wrap eggs with twine or rubber bands before dyeing to create a striped effect. Remove after drying.
  • Create patterns with small bits of tape or stickers and remove after dyeing and drying.
  • Dab rubber cement on eggs and rub it off after dyeing and drying.
Easter Egg Ideas
  • For spattered eggs, dip egg in a base color and let dry. Dip a clean toothbrush in a contrasting liquid color and carefully flick bristles with your fingers to make paint splatter onto egg.
  • For marbleized eggs, coat eggs with a base color and let dry. Mix canola or other light cooking oil into another color of dye (1 teaspoon oil per cup of dye) and quickly dunk eggs. The oil will repel color in some places and the dye will adhere in others, creating a marbled effect.
Marble Patterned Easter Eggs

The Flowers of Easter – Part 4


Daisies – 6 Common Types

Types of Daisies

Daisies belong to one of the largest plant families in existence, making up 10 percent of the world’s flowering plants. Though we might traditionally only think of the Common Daisy or the Gerbera Daisy when we imagine this bright spring bloom, there happen to be more than 20,000 types of “daisies”. In fact, the daisy belongs to the Asteraceaefamily, along with sunflowers, chrysanthemums, and even lettuce!

Because this plant family is so large, daisies within it can vary wildly. The African Daisy, for instance, comes in many petal color combinations, with a bright blue center, while the English Daisy is a traditional white and yellow.

Gerbera Daisies

Gerbera Daisies are some of the most popular cut flowers sold by florists, only behind roses and carnations. These bright blooms are native to South Africa and bloom in a huge array of colors, such as white, pink, red, yellow, and orange. While they are a little tricky to grow – needing lots of direct sunlight but disliking hot temperatures – they are pretty durable during the winter months.

These babies are best grown in pots so that you can move them to an ideal location depending on the season. Shoot for full sunlight, with moist soil during the summer and dry soil in between waterings during the winter.

African Daisies

This bloom is, obviously, from Africa, and thus requires conditions similar to those found in Africa. It prefers heat and full sun, and needs well-drained soil, but will tolerate dry soil well. Though this plant seems finicky, its only real requirement is full sun; beyond that, it doesn’t ask for much.

Natively, the African Daisy blooms after spring rain and continues all summer. Though it’s tough enough to live in hot, dry conditions, a modicum of moisture will bring out bright and beautiful blooms. Even in the off-season, though, this plant offers wonderful foliage: the leaves are a breathtaking, supernatural greenish-grey. African Daisies are traditionally white with a steel blue center, but hybrids come in yellow, cream, purple, orange, red, and more!

Painted Daisy

The Painted Daisy is a perennial with petals in hues of red, yellow, white, violet, and pink. These bouquet favorites bloom from late spring to mid-summer in bushy clumps, growing one to three feet tall.

Painted Daisies are native to southwestern Asia, but have become popular in North American gardens for the protection they lend to other plants. These pretty blooms repel many bad bugs and browsing animals; in fact, their repellent properties are so beneficial that the petals are often dried and used in organic insecticides.

Plant in well-drained soil in full sun to shade, in an area that is neither too hot nor too humid.

Purple Cone Flower

This type of daisy can grow nearly four feet tall, with vibrant purple petals and a yellow-brown center. Purple Cone flowers are not only beautiful plants you come across in the countryside – they are also used for medicinal purposes, in cold remedies to stimulate the immune system.

This flower is found mostly on the eastern part of North America, like New England, but grows as far south as Texas.

Gloriosa Daisies

Otherwise known as the Black-Eyed Susan, this daisy is a hardy American wildflower, and can be recognized for its signature yellow or gold petals and dark centers.

Black-Eyed Susans typically grow between two and three feet tall. They like to be in the sunlight and can handle a forgetful owner, since they’re used to growing in droughts.

Tasso Pink Daisy

This pink bloom is more bulb-like than a traditional English Daisy, with a smaller center. These blooms are biennial, meaning they last through one season, but self-seed to provide future generations.

This strain features loads of little button-like flowers, coming in all shades of pink – even a “strawberries and cream” strain. Removing faded flowers regularly will keep this plant blooming well into the summer.

With so many different flowers that can be used at Easter, what is your favorite?

(Information from bouqs.com)

The Flowers of Easter – Part 3

Tulips

Tulips (Tulipa) form a genus of spring-blooming perennials  (having bulbs as storage organs). The flowers are usually large, showy and brightly colored, generally red, pink, yellow, or white (usually in warm colours). They often have a different coloured blotch at the base of the tepals (petals and sepals, collectively), internally. Because of a degree of variability within the populations, and a long history of cultivation, classification has been complex and controversial. The tulip is a member of the Liliaceae (lily) family, along with 14 other genera, where it is most closely related to AmanaErythronium and Gagea in the tribe Lilieae. There are about 75 species, and these are divided among four sub genera. The name “tulip” is thought to be derived from a Persian word for turban, which it may have been thought to resemble. Tulips originally were found in a band stretching from Southern Europe to Central Asia, but since the seventeenth century have become widely naturalized and cultivated. In their natural state they are adapted to steppes and mountainous areas with temperate climates. Flowering in the spring, they become dormant in the summer once the flowers and leaves die back, emerging above ground as a shoot from the underground bulb in early spring.

While tulips had probably been cultivated in Asia from the tenth century, they did not come to the attention of the West until the sixteenth century, when Western diplomats to the Ottoman court observed and reported on them. They were rapidly introduced into Europe and became a frenzied commodity during Tulip mania. Tulips were frequently depicted in Dutch Golden Age paintings, and have become associated with the Netherlands, the major producer for world markets, ever since. In the seventeenth century Netherlands, during the time of the Tulip mania, an infection of tulip bulbs by the tulip breaking virus created variegated patterns in the tulip flowers that were much admired and valued. This phenomenon was referred to as “broken”.

Breeding programs have produced thousands of hybrid and cultivars in addition to the original species (known in horticulture as botanical tulips). They are popular throughout the world, both as ornamental garden plants and as cut flowers.

Description

Tulips are a spring-blooming perennial, dying back after flowering to an underground storage bulb. Depending on the species, tulip plants can be between 4 inches (10 cm) and 28 inches (71 cm) high.

The tulip’s flowers are usually large.
In structure, the flower is generally cup or star shaped. Tulip stems have few leaves. Larger species tend to have multiple leaves. Plants typically have two to six leaves, some species up to 12. The tulip’s leaf is strap-shaped, with a waxy coating, and the leaves are alternate (alternately arranged on the stem), diminishing in size the further up the stem. These fleshy blades are often bluish-green in color.

Introduction to the United States

It is believed the first tulips in the United States were grown near Spring Pond at the Fay Estate in Lynn and Salem, Massachusetts. From 1847 to 1865, Richard Sullivan Fay, Esq., one of Lynn’s wealthiest men, settled on 500 acres located partly in present-day Lynn and partly in present-day Salem. Mr. Fay imported many different trees and plants from all parts of the world and planted them among the meadows of the Fay Estate.

More about Easter Flowers in Part 4 of this series.

(Information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The Flowers of Easter – Part 2

Daffodil (Narcissi)

The daffodil is a symbol of rebirth – a sign of the new beginnings that come with spring. Daffodils are often found connected with Easter and Easter religious services because of their new birth significance.

Daffodils are the birthday flower of March, the same month as the spring equinox that heralds the beginning of a new season.

Long celebrated in art and literature, narcissi (various common names include daffodil and jonquil) are associated with a number of themes in different cultures, ranging from death to good fortune, and as symbols of Spring. The daffodil is the national flower of Wales associated with St. David’s Day. In other cultures it many be associated with wealth, good fortune and beauty. Because of the time that it flowers it is also a symbol of Spring, and associated religious festivals such as Easter, hence the use of Lent lily or in German, Easter bells, among its common names. The appearance of the wild flowers in spring is also associated with festivals in many places. While prized for its ornamental value, there is also an ancient cultural association with death, at least for pure white forms.

Historically the narcissus has appeared in written and visual arts since antiquity, being found in graves from Ancient Egypt. In classical Graeco-Roman literature the narcissus is associated with both the myth of the youth who was turned into a flower of that time, and with the Goddess Persephone, snatched into the underworld as she gathered their blooms. Narcissi were said to grow in meadows in the underworld. In these contexts they frequently appear in the poetry of the period from Stasinos to Pliny.

In western European culture narcissi and daffodils are among the most celebrated flowers in English literature, from Gower to Day-Lewis, while the best known poem is probably that of Wordsworth. In the visual arts, narcissi are depicted in three different contexts, mythological, floral art, or landscapes, from mediaeval altar pieces to Salvador Dalí.

The narcissus also plays an important part in Eastern cultures from their association with the New year in Chinese culture to symbolizing eyes in Islamic art. The word ‘Daffodil’ has been used widely in popular culture from Dutch cars to Swedish rock bands, while many cancer charities have used it as a fundraising symbol.

Symbols

The daffodil is the national flower of Wales, where it is traditional to wear a daffodil or a leek on Saint David’s Day (March 1). In Welsh the daffodil is known as “Peter’s Leek”, (cenhinen Bedr or cenin Pedr), the leek (cenhinen) being the other national symbol. The narcissus is also a national flower symbolizing the new year or Newrozin the Kurdish culture.

The narcissus is perceived in the West as a symbol of vanity, in the East as a symbol of wealth and good fortune (see Eastern cultures). In classical Persian literature, the narcissus is a symbol of beautiful eyes, together with other flowers that equal a beautiful face with a spring garden, such as roses for cheeks and violets for shining dark hair.

In western countries the daffodil is associated with spring festivals such as Lent and its successor Easter. In Germany the wild narcissus, N. pseudonarcissus, is known as Osterglocke or “Easter bell.” In the United Kingdom, particularly in ecclesiastical circles, the daffodil is sometimes variously referred to as the Lenten or Lent lily.[ Tradition has it that the daffodil opens on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, and dies at Easter which marks the end of Lent.[

Although prized as an ornamental flower, some people consider narcissi unlucky, because they hang their heads implying misfortune, and hence refuse to have them in the house. White narcissi are especially associated with death, especially the pure white N triandrus ‘Thalia’, and hence are considered grave flowers.[ Indeed, in Ancient Greece narcissi were planted near tombs. Robert Herrick, describes them as portents of death, an association which also appears in the myth of Persephone and the underworld.

The daffodil is the American Cancer Society’s symbol of new life and hope that a cure for cancer will be found. “You see a daffodil and know there’s hope,” says Debbie Jaramillo, volunteer chair, California Division Daffodil Days. “And with hope, there’s a cure. They’re a burst of sunshine, a ray of hope. Even if it is still cold outside, you know there’s warmth and light ahead.”

More about flowers used at Easter in Part 3.

(Information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The Flowers of Easter – Part 1

Easter Lily

Lilium longiflorum (often called the Easter Lily, is a plant endemic to both Taiwan and Ryukyu Islands (Japan). Lilium formosana, a closely related species from Taiwan, has been treated as a variety of Easter lily in the past. It is a stem rooting lily, growing up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) high. It bears a number of trumpet shaped, white, fragrant, and outward facing flowers.

Features

Plants tend to grow from about 50 cm (20 in) to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) tall. They have long oval leaves and the vein enters the horizontal direction. From April to June, the plant’s flowering season, it produces pure white flowers on top of the stem. The stem has a cylindrical shape, with a diameter of about 5 cm (2.0 in).

Use in Easter

Lilium longiflorum is known as the Easter Lily because in Christianity, it is a symbol of the resurrection of Christ, which is celebrated during Easter. The “Lily has always been highly regarded in the Church”, as Jesus Himself referenced the flower, saying “Consider the Lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Luke 12:27). Moreover, according to pious legend, “after Jesus’ death and resurrection, some of these beautiful flowers were found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus went to pray the night before His crucifixion. Legend has it that these flowers sprung up where drops of Jesus’ sweat fell as he prayed”. In many Christian churches, the chancel is adorned with Easter Lilies throughout the Paschal season.

Lilium longiflorum (Easter Lily).JPG

History

From the 1890s to the early 1920s, there was a thriving export trade of bulbs from Bermuda to New York. In 1903, USDA Agricultural Research Services (ARS) started to distribute disease free plant materials and seeds. The agency also started a breeding program, and released one of the first dwarf cultivars for potted-plant production in 1929. Prior to USDA’s effort, Lily bulbs were mostly imported from Japan before the 1940s. The supply of bulbs was suddenly cut off after the attack on Pearl Harbor and Easter Lilies became extremely valuable in the United States.

Currently, nearly all Easter Lily bulbs used in North America are grown on coastal bottom lands in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon, particularly in the town of Smith River, California, according to the trade association Easter Lily Research Association.

Toxicity

Some Lilium species are toxic to cats. This is known to be so especially for L. longiflorum, though other Lilium and the unrelated Hemerocallis can also cause the same symptoms.[ The true mechanism of toxicity is undetermined, but it involves damage to the renal tubular epithelium (composing the substance of the kidney and secreting, collecting, and conducting urine), which can cause acute renal failure. Veterinary help should be sought, as a matter of urgency, for any cat that is suspected of eating any part of a lily – including licking pollen that may have brushed onto its coat.

(Information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Stay tuned to more about flowers associated with Easter in Part 2 of this series!

Easter Traditions – Part 4

English-speaking World

Marshmallow bunnies and candy eggs in an Easter basket. In many cultures rabbits, which represent fertility, are a symbol of Easter.

Throughout the English-speaking world, many Easter traditions are similar with only minor differences. For example, Saturday is traditionally spent decorating Easter eggs and hunting for them with children on Sunday morning, by which time they have been mysteriously hidden all over the house and garden. Other traditions involve parents telling their children that eggs and other treats, such as chocolate eggs or rabbits, and marshmallow chicks (Peeps), have been delivered by the Easter Bunny in an Easter basket, which children find waiting for them when they wake up. Many families observe the religious aspects of Easter by attending Sunday Mass or services in the morning and then participating in a feast or party in the afternoon.

Some families have a traditional Sunday roast, often of either roast lamb or ham. Easter breads such as Simnel cake, a fruit cake with eleven marzipan balls representing the eleven faithful apostles, or nut breads such as potica are traditionally served. Hot cross buns, spiced buns with a cross on top, are traditionally associated with Good Friday, but today are often eaten well before and after (and, indeed, are sold in many supermarkets and bakers’ all year round).

In Europe

In Scotland, the north of England, and Northern Ireland, the traditions of rolling decorated eggs down steep hills and pace egging are still adhered to.

In the Republic of Ireland (officially) and in Northern Ireland (for some people), Easter is a day of remembrance for the men and women who died in the Easter Rising which began on Easter Monday 1916. Until 1966, there was a parade of veterans, past the headquarters of the Irish Volunteers at the General Post Office (GPO) on O’Connell Street, Dublin, and a reading of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. It is usually celebrated on Easter Monday.

The Caribbean

In the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, historically famous for growing and exporting the Easter lily, the most notable feature of the Easter celebration is the flying of kites to symbolize Christ’s ascent. Traditional Bermuda kites are constructed by Bermudians of all ages as Easter approaches, and are normally only flown at Easter. In addition to hot cross buns and Easter eggs, fish cakes are traditionally eaten in Bermuda at this time.

In Jamaica, eating bun and cheese is a highly anticipated custom by Jamaican nationals all over the world. The Jamaica Easter Buns are spiced and have raisins, and baked in a loaf tin. The buns are sliced and eaten with a slice of cheese. It is a common practice for employers to make gifts of bun and cheese or a single loaf of bun to staff members. According to the Jamaica Gleaner, “The basic Easter bun recipe requires wheat flour, brown sugar, molasses, baking powder or yeast and dried fruits.” Easter egg traditions and the Easter Bunny activities are not widespread in Jamaica. Also, Jamaican traditions include sometimes include throwing garlic onto the floor as a sign of good luck during Easter dinner.

(Information from
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Easter Traditions – Part 3

Nordic countries

In Norway, in addition to staying at mountain cabins, cross-country skiing and painting eggs, a contemporary tradition is to read or watch murder mysteries at Easter. All the major television channels run crime and detective stories (such as Agatha Christie’s Poirot), magazines print stories where the readers can try to figure out “Whodunnit”, and new detective novels are scheduled for publishing before Easter. Even the milk cartons are altered for a couple of weeks. Each Easter a new short mystery story is printed on their sides. Stores and businesses close for five straight days at Easter, with the exception of grocery stores, which re-open for a single day on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.

In Finland and Sweden, traditions include egg painting and small children dressed as witches collecting candy door-to-door, in exchange for decorated pussy willows. This is a result of the mixing of an old Orthodox tradition (blessing houses with willow branches) and the Swedish Easter witch tradition. Brightly colored feathers and little decorations are also attached to birch branches in a vase. In Finland, it is common to plant rye grass in a pot as a symbol of spring and new life. After the grass has grown, many people put chick decorations on it. Children busy themselves painting eggs and making paper bunnies.

Denmark has the gækkebrev tradition of sending relatives and friends artful paper cuttings, often with a snowdrop, and a rhyme with the letters of the sender’s name replaced by dots. If the recipient guesses who sent it, the sender owes them a chocolate egg; and vice versa if they can’t.[ The decorated letter custom was originally a means of proposal or courtship, but is now considered mostly for children.

For lunch or dinner on Holy Saturday, families in Sweden and Denmark traditionally feast on a smörgåsbord of herring, salmon, potatoes, eggs, and other kinds of food. In Finland, it is common to eat roasted lamb with potatoes and other vegetables. In Finland, the Lutheran majority enjoys mämmi as another traditional Easter treat, while the Orthodox minority’s traditions include eating pasha (also spelled paskha) instead.

In the western parts of Sweden and in Finnish Ostrobothnia, bonfires have at least since the 18th century been lit during Holy Saturday. This tradition is claimed to have its origin in Holland. During the last decades though, the bonfires have in many places been moved to Walpurgis Night, as this is the traditional date for bonfires in many other parts of the country.

Cyprus

As well as the common painted Easter egg bump, in Cyprus it is customary for people to light great fires (Greek: λαμπρατζια) in schools or church yards. The fires are made up of scrap wood, gathered usually by enthusiastic young boys which scour their neighborhoods for them, in order to make their fire as great as it can be (and bigger than the neighboring one). More than often this competition leads to fights happening over scraps of wood and the police or fire department being called to put out the fires that have gone out of control. It is customary for a small doll representing Judas Iscariot to be burnt. The same thing happens on Crete, but it is non-competitive, and the fire is called “founara” which means “big fire” in Cretan Greek. The founara burns coupled with the detonation of small dynamites called “plakatzikia” in plural, and with gunshots in the air.

(Information from
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

More about Easter Traditions in Part 4