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Category: Myths

Photo of a statue of Shakespeare, full length, facing front.

Proverbs, Myths, and “The Bard”: Are We Really “Quoting Shakespeare”?

Posted by: Stephen Winick

The popular essay often known as "You Are Quoting Shakespeare," suggests that many common phrases have their origin in Shakespeare's works. This post shows that most of those phases were proverbial folklore, known well before Shakespeare's time. It suggests that attributing them to Shakespeare is a form of what Stephen Jay Gould called a "Creation Myth," and that the credit for many of the phrases should go to ordinary speakers of English. It argues that part of Shakespeare's greatness lay in his ability to use such phrases to create natural dialogue.

A fairy-like goddess plays a long pipe. A hare sits next to her on a mushroom, and a cherub and three more hares listen to her tune.

Ostara and the Hare: Not Ancient, but Not As Modern As Some Skeptics Think

Posted by: Stephen Winick

If you’re curious about modern holiday beliefs and calendar customs, you might be reading or doing research about them online. Chances are, you come across some stories that the presenters claim are ancient, and reach into the pre-Christian past. One popular story you might have seen recently involves the origin of the Easter Bunny. Essentially, …

On the Bunny Trail: In Search of the Easter Bunny

Posted by: Stephen Winick

The Easter Bunny, like Santa Claus, is the bringer of gifts on a popular American holiday. Throughout the country, the swift little creature is said to deliver decorated eggs to children on Easter. In some variants of this story, the bunny is even said to lay eggs, presenting a challenge to biology teachers everywhere! So what’s the story on this odd tradition? Let’s take a look. We'll examine claims that the Easter Bunny is related to a pagan goddess, Eostre or Ostara. We'll also look at the origin of the Easter Bunny in Pennsylvania Dutch and German traditions, including the Easter Hare.