Magic Eggs, New Sunday Clothes, and Lucky Easter Rhymes
While cleaning up the attic not long ago, I came across an old Vermont Life Magazine from 1981. The Vermont Country Store has a long association with that publication—our grandfather was involved in its creation—so you never know when an old issue will turn up. This one mentioned a Vermonter who for years had been teaching the art of painting Ukrainian Easter eggs. That was news to me; I thought that craft was a recent introduction to Vermont.
My interest piqued, I did some reading on Ukrainian egg-making (called pysanky), and I found that it is a very ancient art indeed, possibly prehistoric. Although it predates Easter, it was always associated with spring, and the eggs’ original purpose was to drive away spirits that bring bad luck. That got me wondering how many other Easter traditions had to do with attracting good luck and repelling bad. Turns out, most of them.
For example, you probably remember wearing a new suit of clothes or a new spring dress on Easter Sunday. That’s a fine tradition on its own, but it goes with an old New England saying, “Wear three new things on Easter Sunday, and you will have good luck all through the year.”
Remember hot cross buns, served after church and again at Easter dinner? Well, they were supposed to have the power to seal a friendship, when shared along with this incantation, “Half for you and half for me, between us two good luck shall be.”
Of course, rabbits are the luckiest charm of all. Carrying a rabbit’s foot is considered lucky. And so is saying, “White rabbits” on the first day of each month. During Easter, rabbits take on the additional symbolism of growth, abundance, and emerging life—and if that’s not good luck, what is?
Our holidays are never just one tradition; they are built up layer by layer over the centuries. I find that encouraging somehow, the idea that each generation has left its subtle mark on our present-day lives.
Wishing you a lucky Easter.
Gardner, Cabot, Eliot, Lyman Orton
Proprietors of The Vermont Country Store