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The Los Angeles Blade wishes you a happy Easter

The publisher, editor, staff and contributors of the Los Angeles Blade wishes you a very happy and safe Easter 2023

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The Easter Bunnies pose for a group photo in the East Colonnade of the White House last year following the traditional annual White House Easter Egg Roll. (Official White House Photo by Erin Scott)

The publisher, editor, staff and contributors of the Los Angeles Blade wishes you and yours a very happy Easter 2023.

The Ancient Origins of the Easter Bunny

A scholar traces the folk figure’s history from the Neolithic era to today

By Tok Thompson | LOS ANGELES, Calif. – (The Conversation) The Easter bunny is a much-celebrated character in American Easter celebrations. On Easter Sunday, children look for hidden special treats, often chocolate Easter eggs, that the Easter bunny might have left behind.

As a folklorist, I’m aware of the origins of the long and interesting journey this mythical figure has taken from European prehistory to today.

Religious role of the hare

Easter is a celebration of spring and new life. Eggs and flowers are rather obvious symbols of female fertility, but in European traditions, the bunny, with its amazing reproductive potential, is not far behind.

In European traditions, the Easter bunny is known as the Easter hare. The symbolism of the hare has had many tantalizing ritual and religious roles down through the years.

Hares were given ritual burials alongside humans during the Neolithic age in Europe. Archaeologists have interpreted this as a religious ritual, with hares representing rebirth.

Over a thousand years later, during the Iron Age, ritual burials for hares were common, and in 51 B.C.E., Julius Caesar mentioned that in Britain, hares were not eaten due to their religious significance.

This painting of Venus, Mars and Cupid by Italian artist Piero di Cosimo features a white hare.
Piero di Cosimo’s Venus, Mars and Cupid (circa 1490) features a white hare. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Caesar would likely have known that in the classical Greek tradition, hares were sacred to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Meanwhile, Aphrodite’s son Eros was often depicted carrying a hare as a symbol of unquenchable desire.

From the Greek world through the Renaissance, hares often appear as symbols of sexuality in literature and art. For example, the Virgin Mary is often shown with a white hare or rabbit, symbolizing that she overcame sexual temptation.

Hare meat and witches’ mischief

But it is in the folk traditions of England and Germany that the figure of the hare is specifically connected to Easter. Accounts from the 1600s in Germany describe children hunting for Easter eggs hidden by the Easter hare, much as in the United States today.

Written accounts from England around the same time also mention the Easter hare, particularly in terms of traditional Easter hare hunts and the eating of hare meat at Easter.

One tradition, known as the “Hare Pie Scramble,” was held at Hallaton, a village in Leicestershire, England. It involved eating a pie made with hare meat and people “scrambling” for a slice. In 1790, the local parson tried to stop the custom due to its pagan associations, but he was unsuccessful, and the custom continues in that village until this day.

Albrecht Dürer, Young Hare​​​​​​​, 1502
Albrecht Dürer, Young Hare, 1502 Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The eating of the hare may have been associated with various longstanding folk traditions of scaring away witches at Easter. Throughout northern Europe, folk traditions record a strong belief that witches would often take the form of a hare, usually for causing mischief such as stealing milk from neighbors’ cows. Witches in medieval Europe were said to be able to suck out the life energy of others, making them ill.

The idea that the witches of winter should be banished at Easter is a common European folk motif appearing in several festivities and rituals. The spring equinox, with its promise of new life, was held symbolically in opposition to the life-draining activities of witches and winter.

This idea provides the underlying rationale behind various festivities and rituals, such as the Osterfeuer, or Easter Fire, a celebration in Germany involving large outdoor bonfires meant to scare away witches. In Sweden, popular folklore states that at Easter, the witches all fly away on their broomsticks to feast and dance with the devil on the legendary island of Blåkulla, in the Baltic Sea.

Pagan origins

In 1835, the folklorist Jacob Grimm, one of the famous team of the fairy tale Brothers Grimm, argued that the Easter hare was connected to a goddess he imagined would have been called “Ostara” in ancient German. He derived this name from the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre, who Bede, an early medieval monk considered to be the father of English history, mentioned in 731 C.E.

Bede noted that in eighth-century England, the month of April was called Eosturmonath, or Eostre Month, after the goddess Eostre. He wrote that a pagan festival of spring in the name of the goddess had become assimilated into the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

While most European languages refer to the Christian holiday with names that come from the Jewish holiday of Passover, such as Pâques in French or Påsk in Swedish, German and English languages retain this older, non-biblical word: Easter.

Titian, Mary and Infant Jesus With a Rabbit, circa 1530
Titian, Mary and Infant Jesus With a Rabbit, circa 1530 Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Recent archaeological research appears to confirm the worship of Eostre in parts of England and Germany, with the hare as her main symbol. The Easter bunny therefore seems to recall these pre-Christian celebrations of spring, heralded by the vernal equinox and personified by the goddess Eostre.

After a long, cold, northern winter, it seems natural enough for people to celebrate themes of resurrection and rebirth. The flowers are blooming, birds are laying eggs and baby bunnies are hopping about.

As new life emerges in spring, the Easter bunny hops back once again, providing a longstanding cultural symbol to remind us of the cycles and stages of our own lives.

Tok Thompson is an anthropologist at the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2017, he was the editor for Western Folklore. Recent books include The Truth of Myth, a textbook for World Mythology (with Gregory Schrempp) and a casebook entitled Posthuman Folklore.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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The Los Angeles Blade wishes our readers a Happy Father’s Day

“I’ve said it before- it’s absolutely true: My mother gave me my drive, but my father gave me my dreams. Thanks to him, I could see a future”

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Los Angeles Blade photo montage

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The publisher, editor, staff and contributors of the Blade wish all of our readership a Happy Father’s Day, especially all dads, papas and granddads.

“I’ve said it before, but it’s absolutely true: My mother gave me my drive, but my father gave me my dreams. Thanks to him, I could see a future.” – Liza Minnelli

“Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” – Anne Geddes

“It is a wise father that knows his own child.” – William Shakespeare

“A father’s smile has been known to light up a child’s entire day.” – Susan Gale

“Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, storytellers, and singers of song.” – Pam Brown

“My father taught me to work, but not to love it. I never did like to work, and I don’t deny it. I’d rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh—anything but work.” – Abraham Lincoln

“A father is someone who carries pictures in his wallet where his money used to be.” – Suzanne Heintz

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me.” – Jim Valvano

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Happy Pride 2024!

Being LGBTQ+ is an immutable characteristic of our very humanity, our selves- not a choice & should be embraced & celebrated

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File photo of Pride attendees courtesy of Christopher Street West

LOS ANGELES – The publisher, editor, staff, and contributors of the Los Angeles Blade wish all of you and your families a safe and happy Pride season this year.

This year more so than ever before with the entire LGBTQ+ community under attack from those who would take away out rights and even attempt to erase us, we need to rededicate ourselves to vigilance, awareness, and in the spirit of those first Pride parades and gatherings over fifty years ago, make our voices heard collectively to the world around us, and especially this year, at the ballot box.

Being LGBTQ+ is an immutable characteristic of our very humanity, our selves, and not a choice. Our queerness is our uniqueness and is to be embraced and celebrated not only this month but year round.

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Happy Mother’s Day

The publisher, editor, staff and contributors of the Los Angeles Blade wish our readership a very Happy Mother’s Day

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The publisher, editor, staff and contributors of the Los Angeles Blade wish our readership a very Happy Mother’s Day.

Our love to all of the ‘Moms’ who made a difference in all of our collective lives and a big thank you to all the mothers and mother figures out there who provide us love, inspiration and support.

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The Los Angeles Blade wishes you a happy Easter

The publisher, editor, staff and contributors of the Los Angeles Blade wishes you a very happy and safe Easter 2024

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The Easter Bunnies pose for a group photo in the East Colonnade of the White House last year following the traditional annual White House Easter Egg Roll. (Official White House Photo by Erin Scott)

The publisher, editor, staff and contributors of the Los Angeles Blade wishes you and yours a very happy Easter 2024.

The Ancient Origins of the Easter Bunny

A scholar traces the folk figure’s history from the Neolithic era to today

By Tok Thompson | LOS ANGELES, Calif. – (The Conversation) The Easter bunny is a much-celebrated character in American Easter celebrations. On Easter Sunday, children look for hidden special treats, often chocolate Easter eggs, that the Easter bunny might have left behind.

As a folklorist, I’m aware of the origins of the long and interesting journey this mythical figure has taken from European prehistory to today.

Religious role of the hare

Easter is a celebration of spring and new life. Eggs and flowers are rather obvious symbols of female fertility, but in European traditions, the bunny, with its amazing reproductive potential, is not far behind.

In European traditions, the Easter bunny is known as the Easter hare. The symbolism of the hare has had many tantalizing ritual and religious roles down through the years.

Hares were given ritual burials alongside humans during the Neolithic age in Europe. Archaeologists have interpreted this as a religious ritual, with hares representing rebirth.

Over a thousand years later, during the Iron Age, ritual burials for hares were common, and in 51 B.C.E., Julius Caesar mentioned that in Britain, hares were not eaten due to their religious significance.

This painting of Venus, Mars and Cupid by Italian artist Piero di Cosimo features a white hare.
Piero di Cosimo’s Venus, Mars and Cupid (circa 1490) features a white hare. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Caesar would likely have known that in the classical Greek tradition, hares were sacred to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Meanwhile, Aphrodite’s son Eros was often depicted carrying a hare as a symbol of unquenchable desire.

From the Greek world through the Renaissance, hares often appear as symbols of sexuality in literature and art. For example, the Virgin Mary is often shown with a white hare or rabbit, symbolizing that she overcame sexual temptation.

Hare meat and witches’ mischief

But it is in the folk traditions of England and Germany that the figure of the hare is specifically connected to Easter. Accounts from the 1600s in Germany describe children hunting for Easter eggs hidden by the Easter hare, much as in the United States today.

Written accounts from England around the same time also mention the Easter hare, particularly in terms of traditional Easter hare hunts and the eating of hare meat at Easter.

One tradition, known as the “Hare Pie Scramble,” was held at Hallaton, a village in Leicestershire, England. It involved eating a pie made with hare meat and people “scrambling” for a slice. In 1790, the local parson tried to stop the custom due to its pagan associations, but he was unsuccessful, and the custom continues in that village until this day.

Albrecht Dürer, Young Hare​​​​​​​, 1502
Albrecht Dürer, Young Hare, 1502 Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The eating of the hare may have been associated with various longstanding folk traditions of scaring away witches at Easter. Throughout northern Europe, folk traditions record a strong belief that witches would often take the form of a hare, usually for causing mischief such as stealing milk from neighbors’ cows. Witches in medieval Europe were said to be able to suck out the life energy of others, making them ill.

The idea that the witches of winter should be banished at Easter is a common European folk motif appearing in several festivities and rituals. The spring equinox, with its promise of new life, was held symbolically in opposition to the life-draining activities of witches and winter.

This idea provides the underlying rationale behind various festivities and rituals, such as the Osterfeuer, or Easter Fire, a celebration in Germany involving large outdoor bonfires meant to scare away witches. In Sweden, popular folklore states that at Easter, the witches all fly away on their broomsticks to feast and dance with the devil on the legendary island of Blåkulla, in the Baltic Sea.

Pagan origins

In 1835, the folklorist Jacob Grimm, one of the famous team of the fairy tale Brothers Grimm, argued that the Easter hare was connected to a goddess he imagined would have been called “Ostara” in ancient German. He derived this name from the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre, who Bede, an early medieval monk considered to be the father of English history, mentioned in 731 C.E.

Bede noted that in eighth-century England, the month of April was called Eosturmonath, or Eostre Month, after the goddess Eostre. He wrote that a pagan festival of spring in the name of the goddess had become assimilated into the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

While most European languages refer to the Christian holiday with names that come from the Jewish holiday of Passover, such as Pâques in French or Påsk in Swedish, German and English languages retain this older, non-biblical word: Easter.

Titian, Mary and Infant Jesus With a Rabbit, circa 1530
Titian, Mary and Infant Jesus With a Rabbit, circa 1530 Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Recent archaeological research appears to confirm the worship of Eostre in parts of England and Germany, with the hare as her main symbol. The Easter bunny therefore seems to recall these pre-Christian celebrations of spring, heralded by the vernal equinox and personified by the goddess Eostre.

After a long, cold, northern winter, it seems natural enough for people to celebrate themes of resurrection and rebirth. The flowers are blooming, birds are laying eggs and baby bunnies are hopping about.

As new life emerges in spring, the Easter bunny hops back once again, providing a longstanding cultural symbol to remind us of the cycles and stages of our own lives.

Tok Thompson is an anthropologist at the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2017, he was the editor for Western Folklore. Recent books include The Truth of Myth, a textbook for World Mythology (with Gregory Schrempp) and a casebook entitled Posthuman Folklore.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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The Los Angeles Blade celebrates Transgender Day of Visibility

International TDOV was created in 2010 by trans advocate Rachel Crandall. Crandall, was the head of Transgender Michigan

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International Transgender Day of Visibility. Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES – Today we mark the observance of International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day that each year on March 31 set aside celebrate the lives and contributions of trans people, while also drawing attention to the poverty, discrimination, and violence the community faces.

GLAAD notes that International TDOV was created in 2010 by trans advocate Rachel Crandall. Crandall, the head of Transgender Michigan, created TDOV in response to the overwhelming majority of media stories about transgender people being focused on violence. She hoped to create a day where people could celebrate the lives of transgender people, while still acknowledging that due to discrimination, not every trans person can or wants to be visible.

Given that a minority of Americans say they personally know someone who’s transgender, the vast majority of the public learns about trans people from the media. This is a problem because, as shown in the Netflix documentary Disclosure, the media has misrepresented, mischaracterized, and stereotyped trans people since the invention of film. These false depictions have indisputably shaped the cultural understanding of who trans people are and have modeled, often for the worse, how the average cisgender person should react to and treat trans people in their own lives.

Evident in 2024 is intensifying backlash toward trans people, be it through legislative measures which, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, includes 479 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced across state legislatures this year alone, to direct physical violence, declared an epidemic by the American Medical Association since 2019, which disproportionately affects Black trans women with a majority being young people of color.

This year, Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old Indigenous and 2STGNC+ (Two Spirit, transgender and gender nonconforming+) sophomore, was killed in Oklahoma, underscoring the severe and significant impact of bullying and discrimination.

That’s why it’s still necessary for trans people to be seen through authentic, diverse, and accurate stories which reflect the actual lived experiences of trans people; both for themselves and for the people who believe they’ve never met a trans person.

This includes in news media, where too often trans people’s voices are missing from coverage of anti-trans laws and policies affecting their lives. This is true even at The New York Times where Media Matters recorded that the paper excluded the perspectives of trans people from two-thirds (60%) of its stories about anti-trans legislation in the year following public criticism for its handling of the topic.

Without trans people, including experts who are trans weighing in, and without trans representation in newsrooms to help guide coverage, anti-trans discrimination is often misrepresented in the news as a “culture clash” and “just asking questions” rather than as willful misinformation and targeted hate.

While backlash is a reality that trans people and allies are experiencing, new GLAAD polling data indicates that the vast majority of voting groups oppose candidates who campaign against transgender people’s access to healthcare and youth sports participation, and acceptance continues to rise with personal familiarity and exposure to trans stories in media.

California Governor Gavin Newsom posted a message of support on X (formerly Twitter):

Today, on Trans Day of Visibility, we celebrate California’s trans individuals and recognize their struggle for recognition and survival in the face of unconscionable hate. Everyone deserves to be respected, connected, and protected. Our trans community deserves no less.

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The Los Angeles Blade wishes you a safe & Happy New Year 2024!

We deeply appreciate your ongoing readership, patronage, encouragement and look forward to continuing to serve you in the New Year

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LOS ANGELES – The publisher, editor, staff, and contributors of the Los Angeles Blade wish all of you, your loved ones and families a safe & happy New Year’s Eve.

The LA Blade deeply appreciates your ongoing readership, support and encouragement and thanks all of you for your loyal engagement and we look forward to serving you better in 2023.

Editorial Note: The Los Angeles Blade will not publish after 5p.m. Sunday, December 31, 2023 nor Monday, January 1st and will resume publication on Tuesday, January 2.

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The Los Angeles Blade wishes you a joyous Christmas

Feliz Navidad + Счастливого Рождества + 메리 크리스마스 + Chúc Giáng sinh an lành + joyeux Noël + 圣诞快乐 + Շնորհավոր Ամանոր և Սուրբ Ծնունդ + メリークリスマス

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Christmas 2023 (Screenshot/YouTube)

LOS ANGELES – The publisher, editor, staff and contributors of the Los Angeles Blade wish all of you, your loved ones and families a safe & happy Christmas holiday 2023.

All of us deeply appreciate your ongoing readership, support and encouragement and thank all of you for your loyal engagement and trust.

Editorial note: The Los Angeles Blade will not publish after 8 p.m. Christmas Eve and all of Christmas Day and will resume publication Tuesday, December 26.

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The Los Angeles Blade wishes you a safe & happy Thanksgiving

Have a safe and joyous holiday!

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"Tom" Turkey via the U.S. Department of Agriculture

LOS ANGELES – The publisher, editor and staff of the Los Angeles Blade wish all of you, your loved ones and families a safe & happy Thanksgiving holiday.

The staff of the LA Blade is thankful for your ongoing readership, comments, support and encouragement and deeply appreciates your loyal engagement.

Editorial note: The LA Blade will not publish Thanksgiving Day and will resume publication Friday, November 24.

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Dear Veterans, We thank you for your service

Veterans’ Day coincides with other holidays including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day which are commemorated in other countries

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Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The publisher, editor, staff, and contributors of the Los Angeles Blade wish to thank all of the veterans of the armed forces, Army; Marines; Navy; Coast Guard; Air Force and Space Force for their service.

Veterans Day (originally known as Armistice Day) is a federal holiday in the United States observed annually on November 11, for honoring military veterans of the United States Armed Forces. 

It coincides with other holidays including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day which are commemorated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I.

Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. At the urging of major U.S. veteran organizations, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

Veterans Day is distinct from Memorial Day, a U.S. public holiday in May. Veterans Day commemorated the service of all U.S. veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who have died while in military service

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Happy Halloween & Dia de los Muertos

Drivers will need to take extra precautions while trick-or-treaters and celebrants should also make safety a top priority

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Dia de los Muertos 2023, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip J. Bartell)

LOS ANGELES – The publisher, editor, staff, and contributors of the Los Angeles Blade wish all of you a happy, fun-filled, and safe Halloween & Dia de los Muertos celebrations.

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