Easter is a wonderful time of year; I often find that it sneaks up on you. I was putting my weekly dose of Irish together only to realize that it was Easter weekend! And so I had to put a post together about Easter traditions in Ireland.
I remember the days of the ole Trocair coin boxes and giving up chocolates for 40 days and 40 days. But overall, Easter is a significant religious holiday in Ireland, and it is celebrated with several unique and fascinating traditions.
With its roots in ancient pagan and Christian traditions, Easter in Ireland is a rich tapestry of customs and practices that have been passed down through generations. In this article, we will explore some of the most prominent Easter traditions in Ireland and their significance.
But hold your horses, as before we even get to Easter traditions in Ireland; I want to just touch on what or why is Easter at the time of year that it is. Besides the religious connotations, of course. In Ireland, the Easter egg and other symbols, such as the hare, actually have ancient roots in fertility. The concept of an Easter egg hunt signifies the return to the fertile season of spring, with flowers blooming, babies being born, eggs being laid, and the land becoming fertile once again. Originally a celebration of fertility, this ancient tradition eventually became intertwined with the Christian observance of Easter and the idea of rebirth through Christ’s resurrection.
So what are the main Easter traditions in Ireland?
I don’t remember a lot about this day personally, but I do remember an ash cross being put on my forehead by a priest. But here is the ‘technical explanation’.
The name “Ash Wednesday” comes from the practice of placing ashes on the forehead in the shape of a cross. These ashes are typically made by burning the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. The ashes serve as a symbol of mortality and a reminder of the biblical passage, “For you are dust, and to dust, you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).
Ash Wednesday is a time for introspection and reflection, as well as a call to repentance and renewal. Many Christians choose to observe this day by fasting or giving up certain luxuries or indulgences for the duration of Lent. I did try giving up alcohol one lent. However, that did not go so well! Sorry Jesus, Some also attend special Ash Wednesday services where they receive the ashes and participate in prayers and hymns focused on repentance and spiritual renewal.
Overall, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a period of solemn reflection and preparation leading up to the joyous celebration of Easter Sunday.
Good Friday in Ireland
The day that I am not supposed to be working! Although I would have to argue that I enjoy this so much that it is not work haha. Plus, I did allow myself a little Easter beer while writing this. Good Friday in Ireland always takes me back to my mother screaming at me for eating a slice of ham from the fridge! You are not so supposed to eat MEAT ON GOOD FRIDAY! Why?
Good Friday is a significant day for Christians around the world as they commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In Ireland, Good Friday was once observed as a day of the “black fast,” where most people abstained from food altogether. Those who did eat had to settle for a meagre meal of barley bread, cress, and water. It was customary for people to attend mass on this day, and work was discouraged(I am pushing through!).
However, as the rules were relaxed, Catholics were allowed to have one meat-free meal, which led to the association of fish with Good Friday. Nowadays, many Irish households still adhere to this tradition and enjoy a fish-based meal on Good Friday. However, the meal is no longer seen as a form of penance and has become a more convivial affair. Just don’t let your Irish mother catch you eating meat on that day!
You will find if you are in Ireland on Good Friday that many restaurants in Ireland offer special fish dishes, and fish markets see a significant increase in demand during the week leading up to the holiday.
Going to mass on Easter Sunday
If you were brought up in Ireland, then there is no way you would miss mass on Easter Sunday. Not only did you HAVE to attend but you also had to put on the best clothes that you owned! This is also the time when the priest typically gives out about how he has not seen so many people in his Church all year, promptly followed by a donations box and often a second one just to be sure nobody skipped out.
Easter Sunday Lunch
Yes, yes, yes, this is a day I look forward to every year. Where all the family and often extended family meet together for a wonderful Easter lunch. It varies from household to household what is cooked, but Traditional foods served on Easter Sunday in Ireland include soup, roast lamb, corned beef, baked ham and boiled bacon. These would be served with cabbage and potatoes. A meal not to be missed!
What other traditions are there in Ireland for Easter?
So many, BUT so many are not really practised in modern days. I read something about someone hiding some meat in a house, and you have to find it; totally weird if you ask me.
So before I finish this post on Easter traditions in Ireland here is a lovely Easter poem for you from this weeks weekly dose of Irish.
Easter Blessing for everyone:
At the breaking of the Easter dawn
may the Risen Saviour bless your home
with grace and peace from above,
with joy and laughter and with love
And when night is nigh, and day is done
May He keep you safe from all harm
Have a wonderful Easter everyone and thanks for stopping by! Comment below with any other Easter traditions you use or follow.
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