USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘easter’
Game
Holidays

Easter Egg Game

[The subject is SA. His words are bolded, mine are not.]

Context: SA is a friend of mine, and a sophomore student in college. He has lived in Michigan for his entire life until coming to USC. His entire family is Armenian, though he is the first generation to be born in the United States and his only language is English. Here, he is explaining a game with dyed eggs that he and his siblings have played on Easter for as long as he can remember:

SA: So, on Easter we play this game, where, um, we dye a bunch of eggs, like, how you would normally dye Easter eggs, um, and, like, you basically play against each other, where you take turns, where one person will hold their egg while the other person, like, cracks, like, tries to crack it. And if both sides of your egg would be cracked, like, you’re out, um, and, like, whoever has the last egg wins… the big prize.

Thoughts: After asking SA more questions about the story, he told me that this is a game that exists outside of his family and he believes it is Armenian, although it could exist in other cultures. I found the game interesting because most Easter traditions we are familiar with in the United States involve eggs, and one of them is dying eggs, which he says is the first part of this game. I was not aware until now that it was popular for other cultures celebrating Easter outside of the United States to dye eggs. The part that I had never heard of until this interview was the cracking of the eggs against one another to see which egg was the strongest. I wonder if this game originated in Armenia, or if it came out of the blending of American and Armenian tradition.

Legends
Narrative

Cutting the Ham

Text: “This story was passed down as if it were the true in my family. But I have heard it told by others as well. My mom was preparing a ham for Easter and she cut the end off the ham before putting it in the pan. When I asked her why she cut the end off the ham she said, ‘because Grandma always cut the end off the ham.’ So we decided to call Grandma and ask her why she cut the end off the ham. When she answered the call she replied, ‘I always cut the end off the ham because Great Grandma always cut the end off the ham.’ So we went to go visit Great Grandma in the nursing home and we asked her about it and she said, ‘oh well I always cut the end off the ham because my pan was too short.’ The moral of the story is two generations of women were doing something because of the way they had always seen it done but in reality there was no need for them to do it.”

 

Context: This story was told to me by a 45-year-old white woman from Denver, Colorado when I asked her if she knew of any folklore that was passed down within her family.

 

Interpretation: I assume that this story was told in the informant’s family for two main purposes. The first is for entertainment, since it is simply a funny story that I imagine most people who hear it would find humorous. The second is to give advice to its listeners because it has a moral to it, as the informant stated at the end of her text. One could reword the moral she stated as don’t do something just because someone else does. This story reminds me of a longer version of a common saying that is said to children that goes something like, “If (name) jumped off a bridge, would you?”.

 

Customs
Earth cycle
Festival
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Willow Branches of Palm Sunday – Ukrainian Easter Tradition

“So a week before Easter–before and on Palm Sunday–we got to the church and bless willow branches. We tap the branches on each member of the family, and say, ‘the branch is hitting you, not me, and a week from today is Easter.’ After this, the willow branches are placed over the icons in the household.”

Context: The informant, TH, is a second-generation Ukrainian-American living in Rhode Island. She lives with her parents, along with her maternal grandparents. TH and I were discussing her Easter plans for this year, and she brought up how she had to go to church one week before the actual Easter date. I asked her why she was going to church, and she explained her Palm Sunday tradition that her and her family partake in. For TH, this ritual has importance because it is a very particular and specific religious custom that her family participates in, and they have been doing it for as long as she can remember. The tradition was also a fun one according to TH due to the fact that she and her siblings would chase each other around their house and hit each other with the branches, much to their parents’ chagrin.

Analysis: Religious traditions vary among various different groups and factions within each religion. Not every Christian participates in the same particular traditions that pertain to each major holiday, though most Christians do partake in Easter celebrations. For example, the act of blessing willow branches and placing them over the icons in the house is not something that Roman Catholics would partake in, but rather is quite specific to Eastern European Orthodox observers. There is a very important reason for this disparity between how Christians celebrate Palm Sunday in western Europe or the Middle East and eastern European factions will celebrate the holiday. Palm Sunday is supposed to mark the day that Jesus Christ, the son of God, returns to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover following his visit to Bethany–at least this is how it was written in the Bible. Upon his return, Jesus’s apostles and supporters laid their cloaks and palm branches down to show their faith. Palm Sunday celebrations around the world usually involve blessing palm branches and building crucifixes out of the plant to commemorate the triumphant return of Jesus Christ. However, in Eastern Europe, it is difficult to obtain palm branches so far north, so the tradition was altered slightly, by replacing palm branches with willow, or more specifically pussy willow. This plant is endemic to northern Europe, so it was easier to use it.

Another important aspect of this religious tradition is the way that children remember the tradition. For TH, the tradition was less about the religious significance–while that was important–but more about the memories she had involving the custom. It was something fun that she and her sibling would look forward to and it brought them joy during a strictly religious and stoic festival.

Festival
Game
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Greek Orthodox Easter Egg Game

The following Greek Orthodox easter tradition was performed in New/North  on April 24th, 2019

According to the informant, the Greek orthodox church also has traditions involving eggs.

“There’s a game I love to play where we dye eggs red, which is meant to be the blood that Jesus sacrificed. Then you hit two eggs top top, bottom bottom and crack them against each other.” The game ends when an egg cracks, and the uncracked egg wins.

“ Whenever you do it you say “christós anésti“ which translates to “christ is risen”, and then other person says back “pragmatiká échei anévei” meaning “truly he has risen.” This game is fun for kids but also has serious meaning with the red dye symbolism. Children grow up learning about their faith because of the games attached, just as the informant did.

 

Customs
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

A Greek Easter

Interviewer: Do you know of any traditions that are different in Greece compared to America?

AH: Yes one that is very different is how we celebrate Easter. It is a much bigger thing there, we take a whole week off and do a lot of different stuff. 

Interviewer: What else is different? How do you celebrate?

AH: We start by generally having dinner throughout the week with family and friends to celebrate all week. At these dinners we do a thing with eggs, where we have red boiled eggs, the red represents the blood of Christ, and at dinner, you smash your egg against those next to and see who’s breaks. If yours breaks you lose and you eat it but if you win you keep doing it until it breaks. Another thing is that at the church everyone gathers the night before Easter Sunday at the church and the church does a ceremony representing the resurrection of Christ and everyone goes crazy after. We celebrate that like how Americans do the fourth of July, with fireworks and stuff. 

Interviewer: Are these traditions special to Greece? 

AH: I’m not really sure, I thought everyone did it until I came to America and saw how differently easter is celebrated. But everyone in Greece does it this way. 

Interviewer: How do you feel about the different traditions of celebrating Easter?

AH: I prefer how we do it in Greece, it makes Easter feel more special and more important and it is something that is very fun.

Context: My informant is an eighteen-year-old student at USC. He was born in Athens, Greece and lived there his entire life until coming to Los Angeles for college. He is Catholic and has celebrated Easter every year of his life in Greece. This interview took place in person at Leavey library on USC’s campus. 

Analysis: This is a good example of how as people we view our traditions as very normal until seeing a group that in this instance celebrates the same thing with their own culture’s different traditions and customs. It also shows how Greece is a place that takes celebrating Easter perhaps more seriously than America, even though those who celebrate are celebrating something very important to their religion. I enjoyed hearing my informant explain something that I thought I knew all about, celebrating Easter, in a different fashion.

 

Customs
Foodways
Game
Holidays
Humor
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Easter Egg Cracking Ceremony

Content:
Informant – “I went to an egg cracking contest for Easter. Well, it wasn’t really a contest. More like a tournament. Like, it was a jousting match. People would go up, two at a time, and each person would grab an egg, and then they’d like stab at each others’ eggs with their own eggs, and whoever’s egg cracked first lost. And there was a whole roster. So if you lost you were out, but if you won you progressed to the next round.”

Context:
Informant -“I have no idea what it was about. First time I ever went. It’s organized by OG, and he’s been doing it since the 90’s, and it grows every year, so it has like cultural significance now, but he didn’t explain the underlying meaning.”
The celebration took place in Austin, Texas.

Analysis:
It’s reminiscent of the Freudian release. Eggs are supposed to be somewhat sacred on Easter. They are mentioned and depicted everywhere. And this celebration completely reverses that reverence by destroying dozens of eggs.

Earth cycle
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Easter Egg Traditions

Context & Analysis

My roommate (the subject) and I were sitting in our dorm room talking about how our families celebrated different holidays. The subject’s family is relatively large and extremely tight-knit. Most of her extended family live within an hour radius, and they highly value family gatherings. The dying of the Easter eggs the night before is a tradition carried out only by her immediate family, suggesting that this tradition might not be shared with her extended relatives. It is also interesting to consider that the family chooses to celebrate Easter despite not being religious themselves. Additionally, the subject and her sisters are all high school age or older, so I think that it is fascinating that their mother maintains the façade of the Easter bunny hiding the eggs. It appears that the tradition of the performing the event in the exact way it has “always” been is a way to preserve an important part of girls’ childhood.

 

Main Piece

“On Easter, we always do an Easter egg hunt and the night before we always dye hard-boiled eggs. And my parents always hide the eggs and it’s funny because they keep the façade of ‘Oh, the Easter bunny hid it over there, wow he’s so sneaky!” but its them, it’s like—but my sisters and I are (all three) old enough that we know that, but, like, it’s funny that they still keep that. My mom won’t shop for Easter bunny stuff in front of us, she’ll like—my sister pointed out some stuff to her at Target like “Oh mom, look those are cute baskets for everyone “ and she’s like “No that’s Easter bunny shopping, the Easter bunny will come back later” [laughs], so she attempts to like keep that going, but it’s funny and it’s always been that way.”


 

Customs
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Pomlázka Celebration

Informant: On every Easter Monday it is a Czech tradition for men to create a Pomlázka, which is an approximately one meter long wooden stick. This stick is then used to whip women on the butt.

The whipping is traditionally accompanied by a song, its purpose is to cleanse the woman of diseases and they are rewarded with sweets if they are children and alcohol if they are old enough to drink. Then, in some parts of the country, it is also a tradition for women to spill or pour a bucket of cold water on men as a reaction.

The songs usually are something along the lines of “give me eggs”, referring to the overarching tradition of Easter eggs. The most commonly song is something like: “Hody, hody, doprovody, dejte vejce malovaný, nedáte-li malovaný, dejte aspoň bílý, slepička vám snese jiný”, which I believe roughly translates to: “Hey, hey, give us coloured Easter eggs, if you don’t have coloured ones, give us at least white ones, your hen will give you new ones”

Context: My informant is a nineteen year old Czech national attending school in the United States. He’s lived in Prague for most of his life, and Czech is his first language. The interview was conducted face-to-face in a college dorm room.

Background: My informant actively participates in Easter celebrations in Prague, where this tradition is widely practiced. According to him, most people find it ridiculous, but nevertheless entertaining, a view which he shares. He believes that this is an important expression of Czech culture, as this tradition dates back generations, but also thinks that it is practiced mostly for entertainment.

Analysis: This was one of the first holiday based customs I encountered while collecting elements of folklore. I was surprised that, despite occurring on Easter, the custom is actually relatively devoid of Christian symbolism, instead focusing on the egg element of the holiday. This seems to reflect a less-dominant role of religion within Czech culture, as Easter Sunday, a not unimportant day for Christians, is celebrated without the mention of Jesus or the resurrection at all. There are, however, some religious undertones, as the whipping sticks used by the men supposedly “cleanse” the women of their diseases.

general
Holidays

Aerosols, C4, and High-Powered Rifles

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the performer (EC) and I (ZM).

ZM: Do you do anything, like special, around Christmas? Other than like the goulash?

EC: Not really. We have a lot of like very family specific traditions, um, because my grandparents owned like a huge ranch in Napa and had like a winery and everything. And so like, that has been like in the family for generations and so like a lot of our holiday tradition’s centered around like going up to the house and like being rednecks in general.

ZM: What do you do?

EC: Um like, on Easter, we would like blow things up. So like, for Easter I might get some aerosol paint cans and then some like C4 explosive and put them together and then shoot it with a high powered rifle just to see how big of a fireball I can make.

ZM: (laughs) And that’s just… because they live on a ranch?

EC: That’s just our family. Yeah.

ZM: Do you go every year and like blow stuff up? Is that like a…

EC: Yeah. It actually burned down, so like not in the last year with this recent fires, but yeah um before that we would go for like every holiday, like Fourth of July, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, other random stuff.

ZM: And do you blow stuff up every holiday?

EC: Basically. Every holiday involves shooting guns in our family.

 

Context: This is from a conversation I started with EC originally about her German traditions.

 

Background: EC is a sophomore studying at the University of Southern California. She is of German descent.

 

Analysis: I thought it was ironic that EC and her family always try to create the biggest fireballs that they can on the ranch and it ended up burning down, but the two events were completely unrelated. The actual act seemed unrelated to the variety of holidays it is performed on. The explosions seem more like something they do when they’re together and they just happen to be together on those holidays.

 

Customs
Holidays
Humor
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Easter Eggs with Satire

Informant Info: The informant is an 18-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently a freshman studying Public Policy at USC.

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: With Easter just passing, did you or your family celebrate it? If so, how?

 

Interviewee: Sooooo…. We are not religious, but we still celebrate Easter. What we do is we dye Easter eggs AND then the Easter bunny would hide them in our yard on Saturday. On Easter, we would wake up and have the good ol’ traditional Easter egg hunt. And since we weren’t religious, my parents would sorta make jokes out of it. My mom grew up Catholic, so sometimes she would we toss in prank items, like Jesus band aids. We would then dinner 2pm, which I always thought was early, but hey… home cooked food!

 

Analysis:

Despite not being religious, the informant’s family still celebrates a typical American Easter, primarily in terms of the Easter Eggs. Across the globe, eggs are extremely important symbols of spring, regrowth, and birth. Once again, family bonding still appears to be the most important factor.

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