British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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1G0                                         EASTER EVE.                            [MARCH 21.
rough torches, and a small black flag, chanting the following lines:
" We fasted in the light, For this is the night."
This custom was no doubt a relic of the Popish ceremony formerly in vogue at this season.—Brand, Pop. AntiqH 1849, vol. L p. 1G0.
Brayley in his Londiniana (1829, vol. ii. p, 207) mentions a custom of the sheriffs, attended by the Lord Mayor, going through the streets on Easter Eve, to collect charity for the prisoners in the city prisons.
In East Yorkshire young folks go to the nearest market-town to buy some small article of dress or personal ornament, to wear for the first time on Easter Sunday, as otherwise they believe that birds—notably rooks or " crakes"—will spoil their clothes.—N. & Q. 4th S. vol. v. p. 595.
In allusion to the custom of wearing new clothes on Easter Day Poor Eobin says:
"At Enster let your clothes be new, Or else be sure you will it rue."
The day before Easter Day is in some parts called " Holy Saturday." On the evening of this day, in the middle parts of Ireland, great preparations are made for the finishing of Lent. Many a fat hen and dainty piece of bacon is put into the pot, by the cotter's wife, about eight or nine o'clock, and woe be to the person who should taste it before the cock crows. At twelve is heard the clapping of hands, and the joyous laugh, mixed with an Irish phrase which signifies "out with the Lent." All is merriment for a few hours, wheu they retire, and rise about four o'clock to see the sun dance in honour of the Resurrection. This ignorant custom is not confined to the humble labourer and his family, but is scru­pulously observed by many highly respectable and wealthy families.—Brand, Pop. Antiq. 1849, vol. i. p. 161.
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