Posted on | April 1, 2011 | by Ciara O'Brien | 1 Comment
Easter is a special time in Ireland, as it is in many parts of the world – its significance is honored by the people of the Emerald Isle each and every spring.
Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ happens in many different ways…from formal church services to lighthearted, family-friendly activities.
These community events celebrate the wonders of the new season, with its warmer days, blooming flowers, and sense of rebirth.
According to historians, Pagan rituals honoring spring evolved into Christian rituals that revered the Saviour.
Nature worship was a common theme among the Pagans of ancient Ireland, who believed that the beauty of nature was a mystical and magical manifestation of the Divine.
When Saint Patrick emerged as an important figure in the spiritual life of the Irish, he converted the people to Christ. It is believed that he also brought Easter rituals to the Emerald Isle, replacing the Pagan practices of the old days with religious ceremonies that reflected the lessons of the Bible.
As Easter approaches, Lent marks the beginning of Easter rituals in Ireland. Usually, devout Christians will eschew a favorite food or meat for forty days leading up to Good Friday. Bad habits will be addressed and minimized or eliminated during this phase.
Eating fish on Friday is another custom during Lent – often, a specific focus on a more Spartan lifestyle is noted. More introversion, self-awareness, and gratitude is often part of this cycle. Family bonding and nesting may be more prominent during these weeks.
As Lent draws to an end, Palm Sunday arrives, seven days before the Holy Week, when Easter Sunday occurs. Interestingly, Ireland’s Saint Brigid created her famous “St. Brigid’s Cross” out of palm rushes! This makeshift cross has become an important Irish symbol of hope and compassion.
Easter Sunday Rituals
A thorough cleaning of the home is commonplace before Easter Sunday. Throughout history, spotless, orderly homes were blessed by local priests in special religious ceremonies.
People in Ireland may spend more time on personal grooming during the period leading up to Easter Sunday. They may also choose new garments to wear to church on Easter Sunday. Overall, a sense of regeneration appears in these personal rituals. A desire to “start fresh” and begin anew is pronounced.
Pretty, painted Easter eggs may appear in the home on Good Friday (many Irish people do not eat eggs during Lent). These symbolic, decorated eggs will be accompanied by foil-wrapped chocolate eggs for the little ones. However, these treats will not be consumed until Easter Sunday. According to custom, only kids who adhere to the rules of the Lent period are entitled to enjoy their chocolate treats.
After Mass on Easter Sunday, families and friends will gather for a proper Irish meal, complete with meats, breads, and other traditional foods. After supper, treats will be consumed and families will enjoy a more festive, relaxed atmosphere.
Irish Celebrations On Easter Monday
Family togetherness continues on Easter Monday, although some Irish people do opt for a quick getaway over Easter weekend. On Monday, many people move out into the community to attend local events connected with Easter.
Many parades honoring the memory of the Easter Rising of 1916 are held on Easter Monday. This melding of religion and politics can be a tricky combination – it’s important to understand the political leanings of event organizers before taking part.
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