Identify and describe two examples of early beliefs and/or behaviors that evolved into the foundations of later religious thinking and practice. In what ways did these early ritualistic practices influence the development of political and economic behaviors familiar to us today? Provide cases in point.

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Christmas trees are an example of how early beliefs devolved into later religious practice. Nowadays, people usually associate these trees with the Christian celebration of Christmas. However, the origin of Christmas trees is not Christian at all. In fact, it stems from an ancient pagan tradition: evergreens, such as fir trees, were brought into homes in order to celebrate the winter solstice, which is on 22nd December. However, after the advent of Christianity, this custom was adopted and nowadays forms part of the Christian tradition. This clearly has significant economic effects, as the Christmas tree trade exists as a result of this.

Another example of how early beliefs devolved into religious practice is the tradition of Easter Eggs at Easter. Again, this was originally a pagan tradition: eggs were seen as a symbol of fertility. Easter coincides with spring, and it is thought that during pagan festivals celebrating spring, eggs were used to highlight spring as the season of new life and growth. Even the name Easter itself shows this link, as it stems back to “Ostara,” which is the name of the pagan goddess of spring. Again, this has had an economic impact nowadays, given the vast amount of chocolate Easter eggs on sale in the supermarkets.

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