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.
are clearly derived from the Hebrew througli the Greek 7rao*xa. The Danish PaasJce-egg, and the Swedish Paskegg, both likewise signify coloured eggs. Brand considers this custom a relic of ancient Catholicism, the egg being emble­matic of the Resurrection; but it is not improbable that it is in its origin like many other ancient popular customs, totally unconnected with any form of Christianity, and that it had its commencement in the time of heathenism.
The egg was a symbol of the world, and ancient temples in consequence sometimes received an oval form. This ty pi fi­eation is found in almost every oriental cosmogony. The sacred svmbol is still used in the rites of the Beltein, which are, unquestionably of heathen origin, and eggs are pre­sented about the period of Easter in many countries. " Easter," says a recent tourist, " is another season for the interchange of civilities when, instead of the coloured egg in other parts of Germany, and which is there merely a toy for children, the Vienna Easter egg is composed of silver, mother-of-pearl, bronze, or some other expensive material, and filled with jewels, trinkets, or ducats.—(Sketches of Germany and the Germans in 1834, 1835, and 1836, vol. ii. p. 162 ; Med. Mm Kalend. vol. i. p. 202. This latter custom has lately become very popular in London.
John Troutbeck, by will, October 27th, 1787, gave to the poor of Dacre, the place of his nativity, 200Z. the interest thereof to be distributed every Easter Sunday on the family tombstone in Dacre churchyard, provided the day should be fine, by the hands and at the discretion of a Troutbeck of Blencowe, if there should be any living, those next in descent luuin,; prior right of distribution; and if none should bo living that would distribute the same, then by a Troutbeck, as long as one could be found that would take the trouble o it; otherwise by the ministers and churchwardens of th parish for the time being; that not less than five shilling should be given to any individual, and that none should b considered entitled to it that received alms, or any support from the parish.—Old English Customs and Charities, p. 115.
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