Before we get too deep down the rabbit hole (in which there are no rabbits), I’d like you to take a close look at the below batch of Easter graphics and tell me what you notice.
What shows up in 8/9 of them?
If you said “white lilies”, you’re right!
Calla Lilies are a versatile flower that are often seen alongside the Virgin Mary in illustrations depicting her. They’re associated with the concepts of purity and rebirth, and since they tend to bloom around Easter-time, they’re often tied to Jesus’ resurrection.
Resurrection! Rebirth! Same thing.
That other white lily, the Easter Lily, was predominantly produced in Japan prior to the 1800s. These days, notsomuch: 95% of potted Easter lilies come from a small number of growers between California and Oregon. Their symbolism is comparable to the calla lily, however, as they’re associated with purity and rebirth.
Come get yer purity and rebirth right here!
You’ll see both brands of lily displayed prominently on religious Easter cards, along with bright whites and candles. Silver foil and crosses sometimes appear on these cards alongside Jesus and the occasional Bible verse. Maybe it’s specifically the lots that I found. Either way, the old postcards I have are not as overt in their religious references.
Another thing, naturally: crosses. You’ll see a lot of those. Crosses and silver.
A little Bible verse for good measure.
This card adds a little bit of silver, too, that’s just subtle enough one could almost miss it.
Lilies, candles, some more silver, a pretty little card in the shape of a church window.
This Greek Orthodox postcard doesn’t scream ‘Easter’ to me, but if you can read it, it might to you. I admire this one because it feels like a mixed-media piece, with its hand-painted elements that are light on detail combined with darker components that make me think of stamps.
And now, the Jesusening.
Any time Jesus shows up in a card about the holiday for His resurrection, take exactly three shots. One for each day. Also, don’t do anything I tell you to do in this article, you might die. Note the lilies here!
This is the “what the heck, man, you drank the last Pepsi and didn’t tell anybody? That’s so not cool of you” Jesus.
I like this card for the imagery of Christ holding a lamb, and also for how huge He looks compared to those kids, even if He is standing on something.
Now, now, Jeremy, pipe down, we haven’t made it to that hymn yet. Charlotte, I swear to Dad if you don’t stop picking your nose your finger’s going to get stuck—
Jesus appears about the same in every depiction on Easter cards: peaceful, robed, and very, um, pale. In many cases, He looks like He’s about to give Little Timmy a very gentle reminder that we don’t bite our classmates. Sometimes, like in the first image, He appears to be saying “what the shit?”
We don’t know, either, Jesus. We ask that question a lot ourselves.
Join me next time for another round of vintage images, and be sure to subscribe to my mailing list so you never fall behind!