How the traditional Irish Easter was celebrated
The old customs of one of Ireland's most important holidays
Apart from Christmas and St. Patrick's Day, Easter is the most important religious holiday in Ireland's calendar.
Preparation for Easter Sunday starts at the beginning of Lent and culminates with a gathering of family and friends and everyone's favorite food, usually chocolates or whatever other vice was given up for the Lenten period, is eaten.
Although many of the older traditions remain in place, some of them have not. Here are some of the ancient Irish Easter traditions.
Clean house thoroughly inside and out - whitewash applied.
Get new clothes.
On Good Friday
Fast - this is the most serious day of fasting from the Lenten calendar. Some devoutly Catholic will not eat until midday and even then will only have a piece of bread and three sips of water, honoring the Holy Trinity.
Cut your hair to prevent headaches during the year and trim your fingers and toe nails.
Take off your shoes when entering a church.
Remain quiet from noon until 3pm.
Visit holy wells and graveyards. All water from holy wells have curative properties on Good Friday.
Plant a small amount of crop seeds to bring a blessing on all your crops.
A child born on Good Friday and baptized on Easter Sunday will have the gift of healing. It was thought that boys born and baptized on these days should enter the ministry. Those who die on Good Friday go straight to heaven.
Chicken's eggs laid on Good Friday are marked with a cross. Each member of the household eats one Easter Sunday. And chicks hatched on Good Friday will be healthy.
Have holy water blessed. Drink three sips for good luck and sprinkle everything for good luck.
Bring the cinders from the fire to be blessed.
During Lent Catholics would abstain from any red meat eating only fish. On Easter Saturday a tradition developed of having a mock funeral for a herring.
Gather your family and go to a hilltop to see the sunrise. Catholics believed that this is the Savior rising from his grave.
Alternatively, view the reflection of the sun in a bucket of water and then move it so the sun appears to dance.
Celebrate with eggs as a signifier of life. Either color them or give them as gifts.
Have a Cludog / Cluideog. This is a ritual where children collect the eggs and cook them with other food in a structure at the edge of the farm. Essentially it's roasted eggs.
Merrymakers dressed in brightly colored rags would go from place to place singing and dancing and demanding the eggs of Easter.
Have a feast with your family. Traditionally, leek soup and roast lamb was served.
Have a cake dance. The best dancer gets the prize of a cake.
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