One of the most important religious dates in the Irish calendar, apart from St Patrick’s day, is Easter as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and also holds a number of different Irish traditions.
In Ireland preparation for Easter usually starts on the first day of Lent, forty days before Easter Sunday. From the first day of Lent Irish people would stop eating meat but would also quit something they cherish such as favourite food, alcohol, cigarettes and even television.
During the forty days of Lent fish would be eaten each Friday which is usually cooked in a soup. It’s a time of self discipline and a reflection on what Irish people have to be thankful for but also a time for Irish families to be together.
The last week of Lent is the most important part of the fasting period with Palm Sunday being a week before Holy week which sees the bringing of Easter Sunday.
A Typical Easter Sunday
Many family house holds would prepare their homes for Easter Sunday by doing what would be better known as “spring cleaning”, to prepare the house for blessing by the local priest which is a religious ceremony that dates back hundreds of years.
No outdoor work should take place on Good Friday in Ireland and should be treated as a day of rest and preparation of body and soul for Easter.
On Good Friday people would attend confessions asking for forgiveness, have their hair cut, nails trimmed and would also shop for new clothes to be worn to Easter mass.
Eggs would not be eaten during the time of Lent and would be presented to the Irish household on Good Friday but not eaten until Easter Sunday. Eggs would have been painted with different colours and designs but have been replaced with Chocolate Easters Eggs for the children, with over five million being purchased each year in Ireland.
Holy Saturday would be a day that Irish people take a vow of silence but also attend a special ceremony to have their Holy water blessed but would also attend the Easter Vigil which usually starts at 10pm with the Church decorated in purple coloured banners to celebrate the arrival of the King. All lights in the Church are extinguished at 11pm with a new flame being presented to the altar of the church which is a Paschal candle, a symbol of the Risen Christ and the celebrations of the Holy Flame.
Easter Sunday in many homes is very similar to any other Sunday or religious day in Ireland. Families get together dressed in their new clothes and would attend mass together in their local church.
After attending mass on Easter Sunday everyone would make their way back home to start the Easter feast which is usually made up of servings of potatoes, vegetables, meat, stuffing, bread and anything else that makes up a good proper Irish feast.
The Easter Eggs are always presented to the Children after their traditional Irish Easter dinner and can only be given to a child that has not broken the Lent fast and who has also finished eating a full Easter Dinner but from part experience parents usually bend the rules for the children as the fasting is somewhat of a difficult task for a child.