British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

March 22.1                       easter day.                                   161
March 22.]                 EASTER DAY.
Easter, the anniversary of our Lord's Resurrection from the dead, is one of the three great festivals of the Christian year—the other two being Christinas and Whitsuntide From the earliest period of Christianity down to the present day, it has always been celebrated by believers with the greatest joy, and accounted the queen of festivals. In primitive times it was usual for Christians to salute each other on the morning of this day by exclaiming, ' Christ is risen;' to which the person saluted replied, 'Christ is risen indeed,' or else, ' And hath appeared unto Simon '—a custom still retained in the Greek Church.
The term Easter is derived, as some suppose, from Eostre* the name of a Saxon deity, whose feast was celebrated every year in the spring, about the same time as the Christian festival—the name being retained when the character of the feast was changed, or, as others suppose, from Oster, which signifies rising. If the latter supposition be correct, Easter is in name, as well as reality, the feast of the Resurrection.—-Book of Days, vol. i. p. 423 ; see Med. AEvi Kalend. vol. ii. p. 100.
In former times it was customary to make presents of gloves" at Easter. In Bishop Hall's Virgidemarium, 1598, iv. 5, allusion is made to this custom
"For Easter gloves, or for a Shrovetide hen, Which bought to give, he takes to sell again."
It was an old custom for the barbers to come and shave the parishioners in the churchyard on Sundays and high festivals (at Easter, etc.,) before matins, which liberty was retained by a particular inhibition of Richard Flemmyng, Bishop of Lincoln, a.d. 1422.—Time's Telescope, 1826, p. 73.
Allusion is made by Mr. Fosbroke (Br1sth MonacJiism,
* Eostre is perhaps a corruption of Astarte, the name under which the Assyrians, Babylonians, Phoenicians, and the most ancient nations of the east worshipped the moon, in like maimer as they adored the sun, under the. name of Ba^iL.
Previous Contents Next