Irish Easter Traditions
Posted by Niamh Allabyrne on the 16th of April 2014 at 12:32:50
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After Christmas, Easter is my most favourite time of year – summer is around the corner and everything looks so bright and shiny as the last vestiges of winter fades away. It has emerged from the religious world to the secular, with most people observing it on some level – whether they see it as a primarily a religious holiday or maybe just a nice juncture in the year to gather friends and family together – perhaps for the first time since the Christmas Holidays.
For me growing up, it was most certainly a time for family and of course receiving lots of delicious eggs. Our Easter Bunny kindly put our eggs on the kitchen table – which meant there was no time lost looking for the eggs and more time eating them! In return our Easter Bunny was given a carrot and good glass of whiskey – my Dad always said he needed that to keep him warm – even if Easter was shaping to be like the one we are expecting this weekend – somewhere around the late teens – which for Ireland is most certainly BBQ weather!
Traditionally Easter has always being an important part of the Irish religious calendar and with that came traditions associated with this time of year. After chatting with colleagues and casting my own mind back, I have complied a list of some of the traditions that Ireland once held so dear. Do you know of these?
- The house had to be cleaned and white-washed – usually in preparation for the inevitable visiting of friends and family but also for when the priest came to bless the home.
- No alcohol could be sold on this day – and this is still true today – a constitutional law. On this day – all pubs remain closed, while restaurants do open up - alcohol is off the menu.
- Baked bread would be marked with a cross.
- Some people would remain silent all or part of the day.
- Fasting was common on this day too.
- It was thought that Good Friday was a lucky day to plant crops.
- People would visit graves or holy wells.
- Eggs were usually painted on this day in preparation for the following day.
- Get water blessed by the priest and then take 3 sips and sprinkle around your home and processions for good luck for the year ahead. Some families asked for ashes for the fire to be blessed instead of water – with the blessed ashes sprinkled around the house for luck.
- Attending mass was the main and most important activity of Ester Sunday. However, some families also watched the sun rise as a symbol of the risen Christ – perhaps a tradition left over from Pagan times.
- When attending mass, it was a tradition to wear new clothes signifying a start.
- After mass, dinner would be a feast - after all the purging during Lent. Eggs were then handed out to the children after the dinner.
Ireland has so many traditions and with such a long history and heritage it really is no wonder! Check out our Ancient and Historical Tours
were you can explore Ireland and discover some more of Ireland's traditions!