27 Mar 2016

Is the American Easter Bunny German?

In honor of the holiday today, we ask
Is the American Easter Bunny German?
Stephen Winick’s article, On the Bunny Trail: In Search of the Easter Bunny, indicates that we have the German colonial immigrants–known familiarly as the Pennsylvania Dutch–to thank for the Easter Bunny in the United States. In the Folklife Today blog from the Library of Congress, Winick explores the antecedents of the Easter Bunny we know today: the “swift little creature” who visits and hides pastel-dyed eggs and baskets of candy around American lawns and homes for children to find. Sometimes, as seen in the Winterthur fraktur above, “…the bunny is even said to lay eggs, presenting a challenge to biology teachers everywhere!,” writes Winick.

The first known reference to the German tradition of the Easter Hare comes from Georg Franck von Franckenau’s academic essay De ovis paschalibus [About Easter Eggs] from 1682. This Latin work refers to the German tradition of an Easter […]

21 Dec 2015

Letters Santa Missed Long Ago

From The New York Times today, a story about
some letters Santa missed long ago.
Some genealogy research helped solve the mystery of two letters Santa missed long ago, left in a fireplace a Hell’s Kitchen apartment in Manhattan and recently rediscovered. When Peter Mattaliano, an acting coach, renovated his apartment, his brother worked on the fireplace and discovered

…a delicate piece of paper with faint children’s scrawl bearing a request to Santa from a century earlier. …A century ago they lived in what is now Mr. Mattaliano’s home. He has honored Mary and Alfred McGann every December for the past 15 years, ever since he learned of their existence when he renovated his fireplace. It had been sealed with brick for more than 60 years.
“I’m sharing their space,” he said, adding that he adopted the spirits of these children, frozen in pre-Christmas longing. Their spirits remain in the apartment, he believes, forever young, in something of a Hell’s Kitchen […]

25 Nov 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Happy Thanksgiving 2015 to my U.S. readers.
From Mocavo, the genealogy search engine, a Thanksgiving 2015 infographic that can help you with your family history research.

And here’s a great article from the travel section of the New York Times in 2011 about following in the footsteps of the Pilgrims from England and the Netherlands to Massachusetts.
The 102 passengers who sailed on the Mayflower in September 1620 came from all over England (and not all of them were religiously motivated), but the leaders of the separatist movement came from just a handful of farming villages in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and southern Yorkshire, most within walking distance of one another. This is not the touristy, thatched-cottage part of England, but it is beautiful nonetheless, and last spring my wife and I visited to see what we could learn about her ancestors, who in so many ways are forefathers to us all.
It’s a great overview of this important period in […]

31 Oct 2015

Swedish All Saints’ Day

I suppose every day is Swedish All Saints’ Day for those of us searching for our ancestors and wanting to know more of their lives in Sweden.
According to Po Tidholm & Agneta Lilja, of Celebrating the Swedish Way:
In the year 731 AD, 1 November was designated a day of remembrance for saints of the church who had no days of their own. From the 11th century, 2 November was dedicated to all the dead, of whatever standing, and was called All Souls’ Day. It was widely observed by the populace, with requiems and bell-ringing, but was abolished with the arrival of the Reformation. In 1772, Swedish All Saints’ Day was moved to the first Sunday in November and in 1953 to the Saturday between 31 October and 6 November.

In the 1900s, however, people began putting lighted candles on the graves of the departed on All Saints’ Day. This custom originated with […]