Easter Symbols:  History

Most of the images that make up a Victorian or Edwardian Easter Card pre-date Christianity.  They are symbols of Spring and Fertility that related to Spring Equinox March 21  and were important in indigenous Celtic religions prior to the spread of Christianity.  The Church was unable to ban the symbols and rituals so around 1000 AD the church began incorporating some of the prior practices and symbology into their Easter celebrations.

The Symbols

Eggs and new chicks, both chickens and ducks are a sign of fertility. The farmers would collect the eggs in a basket or apron. Rabbits defend territory during mating season and rabbits bouncing around can be seen when this happen.  This plus the capacity to reproduce rapidly makes rabbits and their baby bunnies fertility symbols. Song birds returning North after winter including their eggs in the nest are signs of both Spring and Fertility as are new born lambs. Early blooming flowers such as violets, daffodils, crocus, tulips, snowdrops are common features,  Flowering or leafing tree or bush branches such as pussywillow, leafing willow branches or flowering maple branches are often seen as well.  Children or young women dancing, often dressed in white to symbolize purity or the May Queen, around a maypole (with its ribbons) or in a circle is a remnant of a Celtic fertility rite made more chaste. The May Queen and the Maypole ritual originally associated with May Day is sometimes seen in Easter Symbology. The celebration of the May Queen may also be a predecessor of Mother's Day.

See how many of these symbols you can find in this slide show of antique, victorian, retro and vintage style cards and postcards.

Example Floral Interpretation: In this patriotic image, Lady Liberty holds a bouquet and wears a wreath on her head.  The wreath is Laurel for perseverance.  The bouquet has red Chrysanthemums for love, blue Forget-Me-Nots meaning remember or hold dear, and pink Peonies meaning devotion. Given the context, these sentiments are meant to describe the feeling of patriotism.

7/23/16 The Victorian Era: Flowers and Their Meanings

Flowers were very important in social rituals during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Flowers, herbs and plants had specific defined whether worn, given or depicted on a card.   

Here is a good link for beginning exploration of the meaning of flowers and plants during this period of history.  Click Here

Here is a lovely link with references for in depth exploration.  It has both the flowers and plants in alphabetical order as well as the sentiment you are trying to convey.  Really an awesome link. Click Here. 

Blog 2016

The History of Mother's Day in the USA and UK

The United States celebrates Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May. In 1872 Julia Ward Howe called for women to join in support of disarmament and asked for 2 June 1872, to be established as a "Mother's Day for Peace". Her 1870 "Appeal to womanhood throughout the world" is sometimes referred to as Mother's Day Proclamation. But Howe's day was not for honoring mothers but for organizing pacifist mothers against war. In the 1880s and 1890s there were several further attempts to establish an American "Mother's Day", but these did not succeed beyond the local level.

The first modern American Mother's Day was celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew's Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, which now holds the International Mother's Day Shrine. Her campaign to make "Mother's Day" a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Her mother had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers, reasoning that they were "the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world." It wasn’t until 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother's Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

Influenced by the USA’s Mother’s Day Holiday lead the United Kingdom to celebrate Mother's Day on the fourth Sunday of Lent, the same day on which Mothering Sunday had been celebrated for centuries. Some of the Churches Mothering Sunday traditions were revived and incorporated into the modern holiday.  Mothering Sunday traditions, dating back to at least the 15th century, contain even older traditions....Read More

The Story of St. Patrick
Symbology of Victorian St. Patrick's Day Cards

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.  He was a priest or a monk who came to Ireland around 1000 AD to spread Christianity.  Mythology states that with his staff he drove the snakes... READ MORE