Ecards

March 27, 2009

The Birth of the Easter Bunny

Filed under: Free Ecards, about holidays, easter — Tags: , , — ecards @ 11:14 am

 

 So, how did the Easter Bunny get its name…and what does a bunny have to do with Easter eggs anyway?

Legend has it that the rabbit (actually, the hare) was a symbol associated with the ancient festival of the Pagans, celebrated in honor of the Goddess Eastre or Eostre. She was the Goddess of fertility and the festival marked the birth of new life. It  also coincided with the arrival of spring. Understandably, rabbits and hares, became associated with this Pagan festival owing to their fertility. Later, Christian missionaries, in the process of popularizing the Christian faith, adopted this Pagan symbol of fertility and incorporated it into the occasion representing the resurrection of Jesus which occurred around the same time of the year. The two festivals merged – Eastre became Easter, and the fertile rabbit became the Easter Bunny. The rabbit became a symbol of innocence and sacrifice, very similar to the lamb.

There are a few other stories that tie the loose ends of this unforgettable Easter character together.

In Germany, in the 1500s children were raised to believe that a bunny would bring them colorful eggs as gifts, if they behaved well. This tradition found its way to America in the 1700s. According to another legend, a group of kids once found colorfully decorated eggs hidden in the garden outside their home. Snuggled close to the eggs, as if in a nest, was a bunny, appearing as if it had laid the eggs. This image somehow found its way into folklore and thus paved the way for the now popular Easer Bunny. All these legends combined with the fact that giving decorated eggs as gifts was already a popular custom in Europe, gave rise to the Easter Bunny traditions we know today.

So there you have it. A bunny. A basket of colorful eggs. And a spring festival of fertility. All coming together to symbolize one of the most important occasions for followers of Christianity – the resurrection of Jesus. Easter 2009 is almost here.

How will you be celebrating? Will you be joining your family or do you live too far away? Are you taking your kids on an egg hunt? Or will you be celebrating the arrival of spring in your own unique way? Tell us!

No matter how you mark this occasion and regardless of whether you celebrate spring or life or Easter, there is sure to be something in our Free Easter Ecards section that will make you smile.

Wishing you a Happy Easter and a very joyful spring! Here’s to new beginnings…

March 25, 2009

Easter – Origins and Traditions

Filed under: about holidays, easter — Tags: , — ecards @ 7:01 pm

What I like the most about holidays is how they engage everyone in the family in activities of one kind or another. Take Easter, for example. It’s coming up in April and I know kids who are already excited about the Easter egg hunt, and the part where they get to color and decorate the eggs, about exchanging Easter gift baskets and visiting their cousins. But, it’s not just the kids who enjoy this holiday. It has a special significance for adults too. 

What is Easter?
Easter marks the Resurrection day of Jesus. It symbolizes a new life after death.

This is the essence of Easter Sunday, which falls on the first Sunday after the full moon following the first day of spring. It marks the end of Lent – the forty day period of preparation for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and is a period of fasting and giving up sins. It ends on Easter Sunday, the day Jesus is believed to have come back to life.

Which brings us to the symbol most commonly associated with Easter

The Easter Eggs

Eggs represent life. And what better way to denote this renewal of life than with this universal symbol that people of all ages and cultures can relate to? There are several legends associated with Easter Eggs, the Easter Bunny and how they became embedded into this holiday.

According to one legend, Virgin Mary walked up to the soldiers at the Cross with eggs and while offering them the eggs, requested them to be kind. It is believed that after speaking to them, she began to cry. Her tears fell on the eggs which took on a brilliant splash of colors. This is probably how the tradition of coloring and decorating Easter Eggs began.

 Another famous story associated with the Easter Egg is that of the renowned goldsmith Faberge. He was commissioned by the Russian Czar to create a special Easter gift for the Empress Marie. His spectacular creation comprised of a Platinum shell egg which opened to reveal a golden one and inside the golden egg was placed a replica of the Imperial Crown. This first egg far exceeded the Czar’s expectations. In this way, the tradition of creating custom Easter Eggs as gifts for royalty began and was carried forward by several generations.

 Ornately decorated golden eggs were popular Easter gifts among royalty and affluent families of many countries for a long time. And the custom of gifting eggs, decorated with beautiful designs and colors continues to this day, signifying life, the birth of spring, hope and so much more.

 Where did the bunny come from?

But, what on earth does a bunny have to do with Easter? Or the eggs? How do you think the Easter Bunny was born? Leave your comments below. Our next post will have the answer. 

March 17, 2009

Personalize your Ecards, It only takes a minute!

Filed under: About GotFreeCards, Free Ecards, Free Ecards Help, eCards — Tags: , , — ecards @ 3:16 pm

 

Do you remember the last ecard you received? Probably not. If you do, then what specifically do you remember about it?

Chances are you remember it because it was personalized. With a note. Or the sender’s voice. Or picture. Or maybe all of those. Now, there’s no question that our free ecards are pretty cool by themselves. That’s why you send them! But what makes each of our ecards special is not what we put into it. It’s how you personalize it!

Follow these quick tips to personalize each and every ecard you send. It’s what makes the difference between another ecard and a message from your heart!

1. Add a personal note. Even if it’s just one line. Address the person you are sending the ecard to by name. Even something like ‘Have a wonderful year ahead’ or ‘I hope your birthday is as special as you are’, or ‘Lots of love and hugs from…’might suffice. Your personal note reflects your feelings or wishes and brings the ecard alive. 

2. Add a picture. We all have hundreds, maybe thousands of them. Digital pictures. So, why not share one with your ecard? Adding a picture instantly personalizes your ecard. A picture of you with your family. Or just one that reminds the recipient of you, the good times you shared or something funny. Whatever it is, it will only take a few seconds to add one, but it will bring more joy than you may realize. So, the next time you send an ecard, be sure to click on Add a photo! This feature is available with most of our ecards.

3. Add voice.  Remember the first time you were away from home or separated from a loved one? The first time you spoke over phone, you probably said to each other ‘It’s so good to hear your voice!’ The voice of a loved makes us feel better even when we’re across the globe. To use the Add voice feature available on many of our ecards, all you have to do is use your computer’s mic and sound recorder to record and store a short voice greeting, poem or song. Then simply attach it with your ecard to cheer up your loved one on his special day. Very few of you seem to be using this incredibly cool, yet simple feature. What’s keeping you? Let us know! 

We assure you, these three simple personalization steps will be completely worth it!

March 15, 2009

St Patricks?

Filed under: about holidays — Tags: — ecards @ 5:51 pm

 Saint Patrick’s Day may be better described as Saint Patricks’ Day—as in, celebrating the lives of two different men.

      The Saint Patrick of tradition was believed to a Roman born citizen.  On or around his 16th birthday, he was captured in Rome by Irish raiders.  After several years in captivity, he escaped and returned to Rome.  Perhaps surprisingly, he is said to have forgiven his Irish tormentors, eventually returning to Ireland as a Christian missionary.  This spirit of forgiveness is perhaps what led to his being adopted as the patron saint of Ireland.

      But another man, a Catholic priest named Palladius, is perhaps also a model upon which the Saint Patrick’s Day legend is built.  Palladius worked under the Pope in Rome, and traveled to Ireland.  After being ordained by Pope Celestine, Palladius is believed to have been the first Catholic Bishop sent to Ireland.

      Beyond this, not much can be said definitively on the lives of either the “original” Saint Patrick of Palladius.  Everything, really, dissolves into myth, and claims that are impossible to substantiate.  The only thing that can be said for certain?  Saint Patrick is  hero to the people of Ireland, and is held in reverence by both native Irish, and Irish descendants living all over the world. 

March 10, 2009

Holi Rituals and Traditions

Filed under: Free Ecards, about holidays, holi — Tags: , , — ecards @ 9:08 am

 

The previous posts on Holi explored the various legends associated with this Indian festival of colors. 

Ras Leela

There is one legend that is particularly colorful and fascinating – that of Radha and Krishna’s Ras Leela. Those familiar with Indian culture know that Lord Krishna was known for his love of the Gopikas or lady shepherds. The mutual love they felt, was spiritual in nature, akin to that between a devotee or worshipper and the Lord, although it is often misrepresented as the infatuation between man and woman. Ras Leela is the famous festival of dance and song representing the abandonment with which Krishna, Radha and the other girls expressed their love for one another in the gardens of Brindavan. Krishna is said to have taken on multiple forms to be able to dance and celebrate with each of the Gopikas so none would leave disappointed. Today, the ritual of Ras Leela is re-enacted during Holi in some parts of India, symbolizing the colorful, joyous and enthralling manner in which pure love is expressed. Men and women, dressed in colorful costumes rejoice and dance to the beats of the Dholak.

 Some of the other traditions and rituals surrounding Holi are – 

-On the eve of Holi, Holika Dahan takes place, representing the destruction of the evil Holika, Hiranyakashyap’s sister. Bonfires are lit on streets and in some places, people burn the effigy of Holika, and rejoice in the symbolic victory of good over evil.

- Fire or Agni has great significance in Indian culture. An inherent part of many Hindu rituals, it is believed that the heat from the flames and the embers have a positive bio-physical impact, yet to be fully explained by modern Science. As people go around the fire, dancing and celebrating, they no doubt, inadvertently reap some of those benefits.

- Early the next day, the morning of Holi, people wear white clothes and leave their homes with buckets of colored water. Some use Pitchkaris or long syringes that are used to splash colored water. Powdered colors are equally popular.

- They meet on streets, in parks, in public areas and temple grounds – eager to smear each other with splashes of color and muddy water. Children engage in playing pranks and this is one day when you could get away with almost anything!

- Bhang, an intoxicating drink, is mixed with other beverages and consumed. This eliminates any remaining ounce of inhibition in the celebrations.

-After a full day of outdoor celebrations, pranks and ‘color splashing’, people go back home to wash up, offer prayers and then visit friends and relatives, exchanging home made sweets, gifts and other treats.

- Holi is also the time when the equivalent of spring cleaning takes place. People clear out clutter and redecorate their homes.

 Holi is less than a week away. How will you and your family celebrate this year? Tell us in the comments section below. What is your favorite part of Holi?

 No matter where you are, and how you celebrate, be sure to keep in mind its spiritual, cultural and social significance.

  Holi offers us the opportunity to celebrate life in all its shades.

 So, here’s wishing you colorful Holi.

March 9, 2009

The spirit of Holi – The stories and significance

Filed under: about holidays, holi — Tags: — ecards @ 10:29 am

Love. Fertility. Harvest. The onset of spring. If there is any festival that represents the true spirit of all of these aspects and bundles them in one joyful package of color and festivities, it surely is Holi – the Indian festival celebrated in the lunar month Phalguni, which usually falls in early or mid March.

Holi is considered an ancient festival, dating back to the 7th century, perhaps earlier. It finds mention in the Sanskrit drama Ratnaval and other Sanskrit literary and religious works such as Dashakumar Charit and Garud Puran.

When Cupid crossed the line

Holi is often referred to as the cupid festival. Quite ironically. Kama, the Indian equivalent of Cupid, was believed to have been assigned the task of disturbing Lord Shiva’s meditation, so he could give Parvathi a son who would save the world. Kama attempted to lure Shiva into carnal temptation and as a result became the victim of Shiva’s wrath. Furious on being disturbed, Lord Shiva burnt Kama to ashes with his third eye. Later, on the request of Kama’s wife Rathi, Shiva softened and granted him a partial life, one without physical form. This is one of the stories associated with Holi and the one most commonly told in the southern parts of India during the Kaman Pandigai or Kama Dahanam which are other names of Holi.

Good vanquishes evil, again

The other popular story associated with Holi is that of the young prince Prahlad and his aunt Holika. Prahlad was the son of the arrogant King Hiranyakashyap. Prahlad defied his father by praying to Lord Vishnu, whom he believed to be the all-powerful God. Hiranyakashyap on the other hand was boastful of his own supremacy since he had acquired the boon of not being killed by anyone in any of the three worlds. When he saw that his own son questioned his infallibility, he ordered his sister Holika to kill the young boy. Holika attempted to kill Prahlad by burning him in fire, but it was she who was killed instead, while the Lord saved Prahlad.

 The significance of Agni or fire is evident in many of the legends associated with Holi and so bonfires are an integral part of Holi celebrations everywhere. Fire represents the sustenance and victory of good over evil.

So, while it appears to be an uninhibited and joyful, even frivolous celebration of life on the surface, Holi, in fact, is an occasion with deep spiritual and philosophical significance. Not unlike many other Indian festivals that appear to be a mixture of meaningless rituals at first. Only deeper examination reveals the higher truth that drives them.

Coming up… some Holi rituals, Lord Krishna’s Ras Leela and other stories. 

March 8, 2009

Holi – Celebrating colors, harvest and life!

Filed under: Free Ecards, about holidays, holi — Tags: , — ecards @ 3:10 pm

How would you like to be smeared with a splash of rainbow-colored water and powder from head to toe before you even realize what’s happening? Not your idea of a perfect day is it? But, if you thought that being the victim of a practical joke is the last thing anyone would ever want, you probably haven’t heard of Holi. The Indian festival of colors. 

Colors = Life! 

This popular Indian festival represents the successful winter harvest and the coming of Spring or Vasanth. This is one day when Indians across the country, especially Hindus, celebrate life in all its vibrant hues, abandoning inhibitions. 

The Holi festival celebrates the spring season. But it is also symbolic of the way Lord Krishna engaged in a playful celebration of life itself with the beautiful Gopikas (woman cowherds) of Brindavan or Gokul (the gardens where they herded the cows)- singing, dancing and surrendering to love in its purest, divine form. There are several other historical and mythological stories also associated with the origins and significance of Holi. 

 

Family Fun Fest!

Today, Holi is a day when families in India come together, exchange delicacies, sweet dishes and gifts, smear each other with color(gulaal powder) and just have a good time. Getting intoxicated with bhang, holding Matka or Earthen-pot breaking competitions, playing pranks have all come to be associated with this joyous festival that people of all ages enjoy and look forward to. Even if you haven’t experienced it yourself, you can easily get a feel of the spirit of the occasion from numerous Bollywood films. If you live far away from family or friends, don’t forget to send free Holi ecards from our bright and cheerful collection created specially for the occasion.

Some of our upcoming posts will explore the origins of this vibrant Indian festival, the rituals associated with it and other aspects. Holi falls on March 11 2009. So, you still have time to plan a celebration with friends and family. The only question is – are you ready to get your hands (and possibly your outfit, your face and your whole body) dirty?!!

March 4, 2009

St. Patrick’s Day – Origins, Legends and Traditions

Filed under: Free Ecards — Tags: , , , — ecards @ 2:01 pm

How will you commemorate this St. Patrick’s day? Will you enjoy New York’s Fifth Avenue parade, which is the nation’s largest and most popular event? Or use the occasion as a legitimate excuse to hit one of the many Irish pubs in your city? Perhaps, like the rest of the US, you will wear Green. Do you know how these traditions came to be followed and which of the St Patrick’s day legends are even true? Read on to find out

 

- St. Patrick’s Day marks the death of Ireland’s patron saint in 461 AD. After being snatched from his family, captured and enslaved for several years, the young Maewyn, experienced a closeness with God. Later, a vision helped him realize his higher calling – to convert Pagans to Christianity. He went about this mission for over 30 years, building schools, churches and monasteries in Ireland, converting the country to the Christian faith.

- Folklore has it that he rid Ireland of snakes. However, Ireland is not known to have housed any snakes. The reference, some believe, is to Pagans, whom St. Patrick set out to convert. 

- Another legend mentions his use of the three-leafed shamrock to represent the Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The shamrock has come to be considered as the symbol representing St. Patrick’s Day. Its green color is perhaps the reason behind people wearing green on this day. Or maybe the green leaf denotes the advent of spring, which is only a few days away. 

- In the US, St. Patrick’s Day was first publicly celebrated in Boston in the year 1737. The Charitable Irish Society organized the first parade. 

- The traditional Irish meal originally comprised of boiled bacon and potatoes. 

- When Ireland’s potato famine forced the Irish to make other countries their home, they brought along some traditions and made up new ones as time went by. 

- The traditional meal too was replaced by other substitutes. If you were to pop into an Irish American kitchen on St Patrick’s day, you might be treated to a sumptuous meal corn beef or beef slow cooked with cabbage.  

 - St Patrick’s Day is one of the most eagerly awaited holidays for several reasons. Not the least significant of them is the fact that, after attending church, people hit the pubs to down beer and ale, celebrating the feast of St. Patrick. 

According to one study, conducted by BIGresearch, there will be a decline in St Patrick’s Day celebrations spending this year. People will spend on average $ 3.00 less than they did in 2008 on food, festivities and beverages to celebrate this holiday. 

Well, one thing you don’t have to worry about spending on is on St Patrick’s Day ecards. Like all our other categories, these animated ecards are free and ready to be sent out to your friends and family on the occasion of St. Patrick’s Day. If you want to make your own greeting cards and print them out, you can do that too with our Printable Cards section.

March 2, 2009

Got Free Ecards make over

Filed under: About GotFreeCards, eCards — Tags: — ecards @ 11:08 am

Do you like our new avatar?

If you visited gotfreecards.com recently you probably noticed that we have been hard at work! Yep! We’re working on creating a better, friendlier website that you will find easier to use than ever before.

We are really excited about these changes that will save you time and make sending ecards even more of a breeze.

If you have been visiting us for some time, then you know that in just a few short months, we added several new features to our site – including the event reminderprintable cardspost cards and famous quotes. On our blog we bring you tips and gift ideas for different occasions and updates about our latest features and ecards. And of course, we are constantly updating our large selection of free ecards and post cards with wonderful new themes. You can rate, bookmark or add our site to your myspace page – all of which will help us understand what you like about us and where we can improve.

So, go ahead, tell us. How do you like our new look? And what new features would you like to see gotfreecards.com bring you in the coming months?

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