The Pagan Origins of Today’s Traditions

My family and I have a tradition of painting Ukranian eggs (Pysanky) every Easter. This was a tradition I had growing up and was something I always wanted to pass down to my kids. When I was young my parents taught me about the origins of the Pysanky eggs and explained that they have their roots in pagan traditions to symbolize the coming of spring. In honor of the Spring Equinox taking place on March 20th I decided to delve into famous traditions we have to see learn more about where they come from and how they have evolved from their pagan roots.


The Christmas Tree:

The tradition of having a Christmas Tree in your home actually dates back to pre-Christina traditions. People believed that evergreen had the healing powers to keep away witches, spirits, and illness so they would decorate their home with it. Throughout time the tradition of bringing plants into the home throughout winter was both loved and hated. It really wasn’t until 1846 when Queen Victoria and her husband were sketched standing in front of a decorated Christmas tree in the Illustrated London News that it became fashionable and accepted. We will definitely have a Christmas tree up this year, but I think I also might be decorating the house with a few more boughs of evergreen after learning this.

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Easter Eggs:

Easter eggs also take their tradition in the pagan past. They were used as a symbol of new life and used in celebrations for welcoming spring. The practice of decorating Easter eggs started to appear around the 13th century when Christianity began to adopt this traditions. It is believed that this tradition came about since eggs were not supposed to be eaten during the Lenten season, so people would decorate them and then enjoy them when fasting was over. One of our favorite things to do as a family is to blow the yoke out of the Easter eggs and use them to decorate an Easter tree. After Easter Day we play a game with them. We take the eggs off the tree and set them in the middle of the table. Each person stands at an edge of the table with their hands behind their back. On the count of three we try to blow the eggs off the table, while keeping them away from our side. Whoever has less broken eggs on their end of the table wins!

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Halloween Witches:

The wart-nosed witches of today actually have their roots in pagan traditions for the Irish festival of Samhain. Samhain was the festival to celebrate the end of summer and the witch we know today was actually called “The crone.” She was a celebrated older woman that we might think of today as “Mother Earth.” The all-knowing woman through time though has been turned into the haggard witch we fear today. Although the witch is a favorite costume of ours, I think this year we might put a new spin on it to make it more like the traditions of the past. What would The Crone dress like?

Find out more at Live Science.

Jacinda Boneau is a fabric designer and founding co-editor at Pretty Prudent, the premier design and lifestyle blog providing inspiration and instruction to help anyone create beautiful things, food, and experiences for their friends and family.

Article Posted 3 years Ago

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