—to the devil"—but a comparison of the ancient modes of commemorating the great feast and our own more reverent observance is certainly reassuring.
During the middle ages Easter was regarded as a religious carnival. The reaction after a Lent of austerity led the people to give themselves up to the wildest sports, dances, and farcical exhibitions. Even in the pulpit the clergy tried to move their audiences to laughter, and it is on record that one priest preached his sermon with his head encased in a mask imitating the head of an ass!
Puritanism in England and the teachings of Calvin on the continent taught the people more reverence and dignity.
Eggs have always been a feature of the Easter celebration. Formerly it was forbidden to eat them in Lent, but they were preserved until Easter, as peculiarly appropriate to typify life out of dead matter and introduction into a new phase of existence, just as the chick makes its way out of the narrow cell into the great world where new powers attend new experiences.
The vast accumulation of eggs therefore led to various games and customs connected with their use—of which that of "matching eggs" is the most common. The eggs are struck together, and the broken one is forfeited to the person whose egg resisted the attack.
Eggs coloured in all the tints of the rainbow were first blessed by the parish priest and then distributed among the poor, while gilded ones were the exclusive prerogative of royalty.
Lovers exchanged eggs upon which sentimental verses were written, like those in old valentines. Gifts of beautifully painted ones, which were often real works of art, were interchanged among friends. Even