Easter trees are slowly becoming a part of mainstream Easter traditions. In spring, they can be found on the shelves of many shops. In spite of their popularity, the origins of the Easter tree are still a mystery to many celebrants.
The tradition of hanging Easter eggs from trees can be traced to Europe, where making Easter eggs has been an important holiday tradition for hundreds of years. In the Ukraine, elaborately decorated eggs called psyanki are made during the holidays. Real eggs are drained of their contents and then dyed using a batik method. Similar forms of egg decoration are also popular in Germany and Austria. Hanging eggs from trees is an elegant and easy way to display them.
Easter trees are a symbol of new life, and they're linked to the nature symbolism that runs through European Easter traditions. According to the Ukranian Museum, "the symbolic ornamentation of the pysanky consists of geometric motifs, with some animal and plant elements." Popular motifs include "stylised flowers, leaves, the tree of life and also some animal figures such as stags, horses or birds." The symbolism associated with Easter trees stems from Easter's pagan roots.
Easter in brings an increasing range of home accessories and decorations to store shelves. Major retailers sell Easter egg trees during the weeks leading up to the holiday season. Eggs are occasionally hung on outdoor trees and bushes. In some homes, Bible readings accompany Easter tree decoration rituals.
Some credit Katherine Milhous with the rise in popularity of the Easter tree in modern times. Milhous' children's book, "The Egg Tree," won a Caldicott medal in 1951, and it has become an American classic. "The Egg Tree" describes the Pennsylania Dutch roots of the egg tree from the perspective of a young girl who is visiting her grandmother.
Continuing the Tradition
Making your own Easter Tree is as simple as gathering some branches and placing them in a vase. Store-bought decorative Easter eggs often come with loops at the end that can be used for hanging. Homemade eggs can be hung by threading a ribbon through a large-eyed needle and passing it through each end of the egg. Double-knot the ribbon at each end of the egg. Tie the egg to a branch to show off your own creation.
- "The Egg Tree"; Katherine Milhous; 1951.
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