Easter is a major holiday in Ireland, celebrated by the religious and non-religious alike. Here are some surprising facts you may not know about Easter in Ireland!
Over 17 million Easter Eggs were Sold in Ireland Last Year
Chocolate Easter eggs are easily the most popular of all Easter traditions in Ireland. A survey from Repak revealed that the average Irish household munches its its way through eight chocolate eggs. Worryingly, a whopping three-quarters of survey respondents admitted to eating at least part of someone else’s egg! Easter Eggs are a business here, last year Irish consumers spent €40 million on more than 17 million Easter eggs.
Good Friday: The Ultimate Good Hair Day
According to Irish superstition, if you get a haircut on Good Friday you will not get another headache for the rest of the year.
Sing for your Supper and Dance for your Cake
The Cake Dance is a tradition wholly unique to Ireland. With the conclusion of Lenten abstinence and denial, communities would gather on Easter Sunday for a night of partying and dance. The climax of Easter festivities was the custom of the Cake Dance.
As part of this, a cake (usually a barn brack) was prominently placed in the centre of the room for all to drool over. The music would start up and the revelers would dance around the table. Couples would compete for the honour of “‘taking the cake” which they would then share it with their friends. This tradition gave rise to the saying ‘That takes the cake’.
Dance of the Easter Sun
Another key Irish tradition associated with Easter, was the custom of rise early on an Easter morning to observe the dawn. Many believed that when the sun rises on Easter Sunday morning, it dances with joy. Families would often get up before dawn and go to a hill-top where they would patiently wait to see the sun do a jig.
I went up a hill to see the Easter sun appear, and saw it rise, skip, play, dance and turn about like a whale.
~ John Evans
Whipping the Herring out of Town
This is certainly one of the more bizarre Irish Easter customs. For the 46 days leading up to Easter many people just ate fish due to Lenten fasting and self-denial. After fish, fish and more fish it’s no surprise that they were quite sick of seafood by Easter Sunday
Each Easter Sunday a single herring was borne aloft on a nine-foot-long rod or lath by the butchers, and was subjected to insult and ridicule as it passed through the streets of Cork.
During the parade the herring was beaten until very little of it remained. On reaching the River Lee, the remnants of the herring were flung into the river.
~ Quote from The Crawford Art Gallery
To celebrate the return of meat-eating, local butchers would host a mock funeral of a herring each Easter Sunday . The herring fish was one of the most common types of fish and therefore provided an apt symbol for Lenten abstinence. The local people happily bade farewell to the unlucky fish until the next time Lent came around!
Beannachtaí na Cásca ort!
Happy Easter from Blarney Woollen Mills!
Header Image via Pixabay