One of the wonderful things about the Christian faith is all the different celebrations that take place throughout the year. And of course, with these celebrations come the centuries-old traditions that take place throughout the world.
Ireland is one of those countries whose traditions have been passed down through many generations for Catholics to honor as part of their deep faith. So whether you’re from the Emerald Isle, or wanting to bring a little Gaelic charm to your family’s Easter, take a look at these traditions and see if you can find room for them in your household this year and for years to come:
Spoilin meith na hinide
Now this is a tradition for meat lovers. During Lent some Irish families would hang some salted meat — often bacon — from the rafters of their house to symbolize temptation. On Easter Sunday, the morsel of meat would be thrown in the fire and the aroma of that delicious bacon would spread throughout the house to prepare its occupants for the feast that is to come.
While you might not want to hang a piece of meat, you could always dangle something else that tempts you — like a favorite candy bar — and open it on Easter Sunday.
On Good Friday, if the timing of the season permitted, the Irish would sow seeds on this most holy of days. The meaning behind this tradition was that it symbolized growth and rebirth — particularly apt for the Easter period. Perhaps you could sow some seeds in your own garden and watch them grow throughout the year.
Hot Cross Buns
Like other anglophone countries, this delicious pastry was, and still is, made for Good Friday. The breads were marked individually with a cross to symbolize the Christ’s cross. The spices represented those used to embalm Christ’s body. In keeping with all things Irish, take a look at this recipe here.
Good Friday eggs
This is a very sweet and lesser known tradition in which any eggs that hens laid on Good Friday would be marked with a cross and kept for Easter Sunday. Come the day of the Resurrection, the eggs would be hard boiled and the family would sit down and start their Easter celebrations in style.
In an alternate custom, these eggs would be decorated and wrapped in ribbon, similar to the idea of our Easter eggs today.
On Easter Sunday
As well as throwing the meat in the fire and eating those Good Friday eggs, families would also head off to Mass. After which the day was full of more fun traditions …
If your children like singing and dancing this is a very sweet tradition you could adapt. In years gone by Irish kids would sing and dance for friends and neighbors on Easter Sunday. As a reward for their efforts, they’d receive raw eggs. They’d then go and roast the eggs over a fire in a field, and keep the shells for May Day celebrations.
While your kids might not appreciate a raw egg, they would probably love a little chocolate egg for their efforts in entertaining.
While kids might be rewarded for their dancing efforts, the adults would also join in with a dance off with a cake as the prize. The particular cake — often a Barmbrack — would be wrapped in some beautiful Irish linen, and the adult, or adults, who showed the most effort would receive the cake at the end of their dance.
Although this tradition is no longer continued, it could easily make a comeback with a little baking and dancing in your parish!