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Easter Fires and Folklore


In Spring of 1847, on the Saturday evening before Easter, the recently arrived German settlers looked to the surrounding hills and saw more than twenty large fires burning on the highest points.  Many of the children were terrified. One quick thinking and imaginative mother told them that the Easter Rabbit and his helpers had lit the fires to cook eggs before decorating and delivering them on Easter morning.  Some adults, on the other hand, apparently embraced a different tale.  Taking into account the fact that Fredericksburg lay on the Texas frontier and their neighbors, the Comanche, were not known to be all that friendly, local folklore has grown the story of signal fires set by Indian scouts communicating to their chiefs the movements of the townspeople. 

The reality is not quite so frightening and dramatic...(shhh, don't tell anyone), and indeed has a much more ancient history.  The people of Northwestern Germany, where at least half of the settlers had come from, practice this same custom of lighting Easter Eve fires on specified hills.  The custom originated in pre-Christian times, as part of a Spring festival, and like the Easter rabbit and the Easter egg, is a downright pagan symbol carried into modern tradition.

Through the years since that first Fredericksburg Spring the Easter Fires burned on Easter Eve.  The church bells tolled at a given hour, all the lights of town extinquished, and the hilltops burst into flame.  Several years ago the practice was abandoned, but rumor has it that we will someday soon replay this delightful drama annually.  Here's my hope.  But I can't decide if I want to be a fire tender, or the audience.  We'll have to wait and see.  Meanwhile...just imagine.

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Reader Comments (1)

What a neat story! I wore my necklace today and it looked wonderful!. I had Bill take my picture and if I can work my new camera--I will send you a picture!!
With much love----Mom
Bill bought me a new Sony TINY camera and I forgot to take it (on the trip) so I have not learned it yet!!
April 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMom

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