Thursday, 13 April 2017

The Easter Bunny

People often wonder what the rabbit has to do with Easter. 
The answer is actually nothing; it is in fact a relic of a far older spring festival which Easter has replaced. This is associated with the spring equinox marked in many cultures worldwide. In Europe the spring Goddess was called Ostara or Eostre, from which Easter is derived.

The Easter bunny is actually a hare and not a rabbit. As many people cannot tell the difference between the two, they are often confused in folklore and myth. The hare is one of the totems of the ancient Mother Goddess whose flourishing on Earth is celebrated in spring. This is why witches were popularly believed to turn themselves into hares to cause mischief.

Easter is timed by the moon: it falls on the Sunday after the full moon after the spring equinox. This is strongly associated with the hare. Hares are very active around this time of year. Everyone knows the saying "mad as a March hare." The full moon in April is named the Hare Moon. In the Warwickshire village of Coleshill until the 20th century the young men would traditionally try to hunt a hare on Easter Sunday. If they were successful  they took it to the vicar who was bound to give them a breakfast of a calf's head and a hundred eggs.

The spring equinox was originally a festival of birth: the Goddess becomes a mother and the Earth flourishes with all kinds of life, hence the fluffy chicks and Easter eggs. The story of Jesus also links to this same deeper story. It is the day when he rises from the dead into a new life, just as life on Earth has always done and will always do. Out of death, new life is born.
Happy Spring everyone !

Saturday, 1 April 2017

April Fool's Day

How many of you were caught out this morning? Well, if you were, take consolation in the fact that you're just one in a series spanning hundreds of years.
The first reference to April Fool's Day is in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in 1392. It is a custom which has come to span much of Europe and other English speaking countries. In France it is the custom to stick a paper fish on the back of your chosen victim, and inScotland  andIreland the victim was asked to deliver a letter to someone asking for help. They would read it- often actually  saying 'send the fool further' or such like- and tell the messenger they'd better ask someone else instead. The victim could spend hours on a wild goose chase.
One of the best pranks was the announcement that Polo mints could no longer be sold without a hole due to new EU regulations, and 'hole fillers' were to be sold with existing packs to comply with the law.
Nobody knows how it originated. Some link it to the old New Year's Day, 25th March, for which celebrations could last a week.
However it came about, we love this day. And if you were caught out, you have a year to work out how to get them back.