Those in Ireland, who traditionally observe religious holidays, do so with great reverence at this time of year. As with other holidays, the people of Ireland vigorously clean and whitewash their homes. This time of year is traditionally known as the time to shop for new clothes. Easter marks a new season, a time of change, which is why cleaning the house and buying a new wardrobe is ingrained in the culture.
Lent is a quiet time of year for butchers due to so many people eating only fish in observance of the Lenten season. Some butchers even throw serious or mock celebrations for Easter, marking the end of Lent. There are specific customs and observations for each day around Easter Sunday. Read on in the sections to the right to learn more.
Good Friday brings many self-assigned restrictions symbolic of the suffering Jesus endured prior to death and respect for his life and occupation. Because of Jesus’ traumatic death on a wooden cross, no woodworking or building can be done on Good Friday. Fasting is also a widely known practice in reverence of Good Friday but in addition to fasting, the people of Ireland remain absolutely silent from noon until three in the afternoon.
This is a time period to respect Jesus’ hardest part of his journey with the cross. Mass is a well-known observation on this day but after attending mass, some parts of Ireland use this time to visit gravesites. However the Irish observe this solemn day, it is with reverence and respect for the memory of Christ and for their community of people coming together to show respect for this holy day.
Easter Saturday is not as strictly observed or solemn in nature when compared to Good Friday. This usually is a day of preparation for Easter Sunday, relatives visiting, food preparation, and spending some time with loved ones. While together, the family usually shares in the tradition of blessing the house with holy water.
Priests, in some towns, go from house to house blessing the exterior of homes and distributing holy water. The priest may also visit the pasture and bless any animals a family keeps. In some ways, this day is also about preparing for a new season as families walk through their homes and gardens reflecting on their present life and blessing their house and loved ones ensuring another blessed year.
Many areas of the world include Easter eggs in some way into their celebration. Ireland is no different although, the egg is a central part of Easter Sunday. Eggs are not only collected, dyed, decorated, used in games such as egg rolling but they are eaten as well. People consume a large quantity of eggs on this day. The origin of the traditions involving eggs is a simple but powerful symbol of new life.
The egg was used as a symbol to explain to young children the concept of the new life of Christ and has turned into a vital part of an Easter celebration. There are many in Ireland who observe another symbol of new life when rising at dawn to watch the sun appear on the day that Jesus rose from the dead. Many in Ireland say the sun dances on Easter morning and it is not uncommon to see a pail of water set out to watch the sun’s reflection dance on the water’s surface.
In honor of that tradition, some participate in a dancing competition commonly referred to as the Cake Dance because the winner receives a cake! Easter Sunday is a joyous day and is always spent relaxing with loved ones in celebration all day.