Army Laundress

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Easter Celebrations on the Frontier

Posted by armylaundress on March 27, 2016 at 4:10 PM

When I wrote my book, my research indicated that Easter was not a holiday celebrated in the frontier army. Christmas and the 4th of July were the two big holidays, although New Years, Thanksgiving (after it became a holiday) and Washington's birthday were important dates also. I decided to dig a little deeper, and see what I could find out about Easter on the frontier.

I actaully found very little information.  This did not surprise me. The calculation for the actual date of Easter every year can be a little complicated. It is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. This would require some good record keeping on the part of an educated person in the 1800s. 

I did find that the Easter Bunny was a German tradition. In the 1700s, German immigrants brought the idea of an egg laying rabbit or hare with them when they settled in Pennsylvania. This creature was called "Osterhase," or "Osheter Haws."  I imagine, if some sort of spring celebration took place, it may have centered around traditions that immigrants in the military brought from their home country.

In Kansas, settlers celebrated a spring festival called, "Children's Day." The children sang, recited patriotic pieces, and gave speeches. Would this have carried over to the Kansas forts?

Hmm...fodder for future research. I would love to hear from anyone who might know more about this, and other holidays on the frontier.

Thanks to the History Channel's website article, Easter Symbols and Traditions for the information about the Easter Bunny.

The information about "Children's Day" came from Elliot West's book, Growing Up with the Country Childhood on the Far Western Frontier.

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