British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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March 22.]                        Easter day.                                163
princely magnificence with which Lostwithiel had formerly been honoured.—Hitchins, History of Cornwall, 1824, vol. i. p. 717.
At one time it was customary to send reciprocal presents of eggs at Easter to the children of families respectively betwixt whom any intimacy existed. For some weeks preceding Good Friday the price of eggs advanced consider­ably, from the great demand occasioned by this custom.
The principal modes adopted to prepare the eggs for presentation were the following :—The eggs being immersed in hot water for a few moments, the end of a common tallow-candle was made use of to inscribe the names of individuals, dates of particular events, &c. The warmth of the eggs rendered this a very easy process. Thus inscribed, the egg was placed in a pan of hot water, saturated with cochineal, or other dye-woods; the part over which the tallow had been passed was impervious to the operation of the dye ; and, consequently, when the egg was removed from the pan, there appeared no discoloration of the egg where the inscription had been traced, but the egg presented a white inscription on a coloured ground. The colour of course depended upon the taste of the person who prepared the egg ; but usually much variety of colour was made use of.
Another method of ornamenting " pace eggs " was, how­ever, much neater, although more laborious than that with the tallow candle. The egg being dyed, it was decorated, by means of a penknife, with which the dye was scraped off, leaving the design white on a coloured ground. An egg was frequently divided into compartments, which were filled up according to the taste and skill of the designer. Generally, one compartment contained the name and also the age of the party for whom the egg was intended. In another there was perhaps a landscape, and sometimes a cupid was found lurking in a third; so that these " pace eggs " became very useful auxiliaries to the missives of St. Valentine.—Every Day Book, vol. i. p. 426.
The words pays, pas, pace, pase, pasce, paslc, pasch, passhe, formerly used in this county, and still used in the north,
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