Hippity, Hoppity Easter’s on its way: Easter Highlights at the MSV

Easter is a few days away and people are gearing up for religious celebrations, egg hunts, a chance to eat Peeps, and perhaps a visit from the Easter Bunny. These activities, except the eating of Peeps, have very old roots.

By Registrar/Collections Manager Lauren Fleming


Fig. 1. Polaroid of Julian Wood Glass Jr. (1910-1992) with several Easter baskets, ca. 1985.
Collection of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Wood-Glass Family Archive, WGFI.5732.

The earliest recorded observance of Easter as a Christian holiday is from the 2nd century. In 325 the Council of Nicaea declared that Easter should be consistently observed on the Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. This tied the Christian holiday to pagan rituals centering around fertility and the arrival of spring.

These more secular customs were eagerly embraced at Glen Burnie following its restoration in the mid-twentieth century by Julian Wood Glass Jr. and R. Lee Taylor. The couple hosted annual Easter egg hunts in the Glen Burnie Gardens throughout the 1960s.

 


Fig. 2. Guests at Glen Burnie hunting for Easter eggs, ca. 1965.
Collection of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Wood-Glass Family Archive, WGFI.5738.

R. Lee Taylor was the chief organizer of these events. His daybooks from this period include detailed guest lists and commencement times.


Fig. 3. R. Lee Taylor’s 1962 Daybook. Collection of the
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Wood-Glass Family Archive, WGFP.4293.

 

Taylor’s homemade eggs were a highlight of his Easter parties. They varied in form, but most were made from plastic or marble. A few, though, were real hardboiled eggs. Regardless of the type he used, Taylor decorated them all with ribbon, rick rack, sequins, and faux jewels to create one-of-a-kind keepsakes for the lucky guests who found them.


Fig. 4. Easter Egg by R. Lee Taylor (1924-2000). Collection of the
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Glen Burnie Queer Studies Collection, 2019.28.9.

 

Following the dissolution of their romantic relationship, Taylor and Julian stopped hosting egg hunts at Glen Burnie. They did, however, continue to celebrate the Easter holiday with family and friends.


Fig. 5. Easter Card from Julian Wood Glass Jr. to his partner David Denham, undated. Collection of the
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Wood-Glass Family Archive, 2012.10.106

Top: Easter Egg by R. Lee Taylor (1924-2000). Collection of the
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Glen Burnie Queer Studies Collection, 2019.28.15.

Published Date: 
Friday, April 2, 2021