Girls often appear on antique Easter greeting cards from around the world. Rejoice at Easter-Tide was commissioned by the J.W. LeMaistre Company as a trade card. As with all cards in this post, Rejoice at Easter-Tide is not dated and no artist is credited. J.W. LeMaistre went out of business in 1897, so the card cannot be any later than that. All cards in this post appear to be of the late 19th or early 20th centuries. Of five children dancing around a giant Easter egg, only one is a token boy. Cards illustrated here all have images of girls, because Pigtails is about girls in art. However, of the hundreds of cards that were viewed in order to select a few to publish here, girls were very common, and boys were rare. Something about girls seems to make them the natural choice for Easter cards.
Although Easter is now celebrated as the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus, the secular aspects of the holiday are derived from ancient pre-Christian spring holidays. The name “Easter” is derived from the name of the pagan goddess Eostre, the patron deity of flowers and fertility. In Italy she was known as Flora, and her holiday, the Floralia, was celebrated with exhibitions of women dancing nude. I have not found any reference to young girls participating in Floralia during pagan times. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, in Christian Anglo-Saxon England little girls performed erotic dances at Easter. Today neither women nor girls perform the dances, but girls are still dominant in the now completely non-erotic holiday.
A Happy Easter shows two girls in new fancy clothes with flowers and a rabbit. The tradition of new clothes for Easter may be a reason girls appear much more than boys on Easter cards. Girls enjoy dressing up in fancy clothes more than boys do. A Happy Easter is from an English-speaking country, but which country is not known.
Easter Joy Attend You has the typical Easter subjects: a girl in elegant dress, willow catkins, and an egg. Surprisingly, the theme of a girl emerging from a giant egg, as in this card, was fairly common. Easter Wishes has all of these symbols of Easter, but in a photograph.
In the Estonian language, häid ülestõusmispühi means happy Easter. Easter cards from the Anglosphere, Estonia, Norway, and France are remarkably similar. The next three cards are from the National Library of Norway. Girls in ornate clothing, willow branches, rabbits, and eggs are featured on the cards, and on one a girl is emerging from a big egg. The second card from Norway shows a basket of what appear to be artificial eggs that can be opened like the egg in the last card from France.
The last four cards are from France. None are dated, but dates for two of them can be estimated from the post marks. Joyeuses Pâques is unusual in that instead of a rabbit, the girl wears a cap with rabbit ears. Some French cards show a girl breaking out of an egg, like the girls in Easter Joy Attend You and the second card from Norway. In Mlle Printemps the girl does not break the egg, because the egg is in two parts so she can open it. The caption translates into English as, “Miss Spring probably wants to prove the saying wrong: ‘in April, don’t remove a thread!'” The French dictum means that April weather is unpredictable, so don’t remove your heavy winter clothing yet.
Very nice well researched write-up.