Return to home page

Learn more about Martinmas

Learn more about Advent

Learn more about Christmas

Learn more about Candlemas

Carnival

Learn more about Lent

Learn more about Easter

Learn more about Mayday

Learn more about Rogations

Learn more about St. John's Day

Learn more about Michaelmas

Learn more about Hallowe'en

Easter

Easter was the most important holy day of the year and could fall anywhere from March 22 (the spring equinox) to April 25. The English name for Easter comes from the Old Norse Eostur, meaning the time when the sun began to grow warmer. A festival at the time of the spring equinox was common to most of Europe to celebrate the new life returning to the earth. In the same way, Easter is regarded as God's sign that his people are brought to a new life through the resurrection of Jesus.

Though it was not uncommon for tenant farmers to still be required to put in their work on the lord's farm on most feast days, Easter was a notable exception. The feast was taken very seriously, and all work stopped, even that of kings, and judicial courts. This was to ensure that everyone would be in church - the one time of year when this was essential

The week before Easter, the last week of the Lent, is referred to as Holy Week and was given over to extra prayers, continued fasting and penance. Games, singing, dancing, hunting and sports were forbidden, as was regular work. Three of the days in this week are marked by special ceremonies--Palm Sunday, Maunday Thursday, and Good Friday.

At the Easter mass, there would be music for that day, the baptism of adult catechumens, and often, a religious play about the resurrection.

Many customs from pre-Christian times carried over into the celebration of Easter, such as that of the dancing sun explained by Alice. Others such as the wearing of new clothes and those associated with eggs - colouring, rolling, hiding - symbolize the beginning of new life, through the coming of spring, as well as through the resurrection of Jesus.