Easter is named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring (Eostre),
and is originally a pagan (non-Christian) festival. Eggs were used as symbols of fertility;
this has led to traditions such as eating chocolate Easter eggs, egg races, egg hunts for children,
and egg painting. The Easter bunny (baby rabbit) is also another symbol of spring and fertility.
Every year at this festive time shops, restaurants and bars tend to decorate their premises to bring the Easter sprit to the streets. The decorations are brightly coloured, heat warming and full of powerful meaning for many. The streets are full of bright greens to symbolise the shamrock and yellows to convey the new lease of life that begins in Easter. Many shops put up Easter bunnies and eggs, which are the true meaning of Easter for many young children.
Pancake Tuesday occurs on the day before Lent starts. It is a day were all the best food is consumed before going on a fast-diet for the 40 days of Lent.
Lent commences with Ash Wednesday and continues for 40 days, until Easter Sunday.
On Ash Wednesday, Catholics receive ashes on their forehead from the priest.
This is to remind people that they are ashes and to ashes and they shall return.
It is also a day of Fast, where you can hav eonly three meals and no meat can be eaten.
People usually eat fish instead.
During Lent people are supposed to give up something important to them, such as sweets or meat, as a means of penance.
Palm Sunday occurs the week before Easter Sunday. On this day, it is said that the Lord entered Jeruselum and people threw branches of the palm tree in his path to welcome Him. In memory of this, palm is blessed on this Sunday and people bring it home and hang it up.
Near the end of Lent, on Good Friday, prayers are said and the Stations of the Cross are done. On this day, the
Lord dies and at 3pm. Statues in the Church are covered.
Good Friday was an extremely solemn day in Ireland. Even today it the only day of the year when all the
Pubs across Ireland are closed.
Most people ate nothing at all until midday, and went about barefoot.
No one killed animals, no wood was burned or made into things, and no nail
was driven. No one is allowed to move house, or begin any important enterprise.
No one fishes. Eggs that are laid on Good Friday were marked with a cross, and
everybody ate at least one of these eggs on Easter Sunday.
On Easter Saturday they used to hold herring processions.
These were mock funerals of herrings, and these processions were often held because people
became so sick of eating herring during Lent. The processions were often organised by butchers,
because they had very little business during Lent.