Easter or Eastermonath

Easter

The Anglo-Saxons called it Eastermonath.

Easter Day can fall on any day from 22nd March to 25th April. This year Easter Sunday is 24th April, just about as late as it can get.

The name ‘Easter’ comes from the pagan Spring Goddess Eastre.

Rain on Good Friday or Easter Day;
A good crop of hops, but a bad one of hay.

At Easter let your clothes be new,
Or else be sure you will it rue.

Please, good mistress, an Easter egg –
or a fitch of bacon
Or a little trundle of cheese of your own making.

In 1875 John Cadbury launched the first commercial chocolate Easter egg.

Maundy Thursday

The day before Good Friday. On this day the reigning monarch used to wash the feet of a selected number of poor people. Last carried out by James II, the ceremony was replaced by the giving of specially minted coins (maundy money) to one man and one woman for each year of the sovereign’s age.

Good Friday

This year Good Friday is on 22nd April. It is a day for making, giving and eating Hot Cross Buns.

Hot Cros Buns! Hot Cross Buns!
One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Buns!
Give them to your daughters, give them to your sons,
One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Buns!

It was said that bread or buns baked on Good Friday would never go mouldy, and have curative properties.

Hang your bun on a string from the ceiling to preserve it. Then, when needed a piece can be broken off, soaked in water and used for a variety of complaints, including the stomach and indigestion!

Good Friday is a day for sowing Parsley seed and planting potatoes.

Easter Foods

Tansy Cake
This is a pudding made with the juice of the tansy –

On Easter Sunday let the pudding be seen
To which the Tansy lends her sober green.

Dock Pudding
Made with the leaves of the pink spiked Bistort.

Cherry beer, strong old ale with fermented Kentish cherry juice, accompanied with Pudding Pies, cheesecakes, baked with custard and currants.

‘Come taste the pudding pies’ was a cry that rang out and offered to coach passengers on the old Dover Road.

Pudding Pies, Simnel Cakes, Hot Cross Buns, custards, and other rich foods, to mark the end of Lent’s frugality.

The lad and lass on Mothering Day,
Hie home to their mother so dear;
‘Tis a kiss for she, and a kiss for they,
A chine of pork and a sprig of bay,
A song and a dance – but never a tear!

 

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To Daffodils

Just happened upon this little poem which catches the spirit of this lovely time of the year. It was written by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Fair daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising Sun
Has not attain’d his noon.
Stay, stay,
Until the hasting day
Has run
But to the evensong;
And, having prayed together, we
Will go with you along.

 

We have short time to stay, as you;
We have as short a Spring!
As quick a growth to meet decay
As you, or any thing.
We die,
As your hours do, and dry
Away,
Like to the summer’s rain;
Or as the pearls of morning’s dew,
Ne’er to be found again.

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April Days of the Month

1st April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day

Marked by the playing of practical jokes. The origin of this is unknown, but it is generally thought to derive from the French poisson d’avril (literally April fish).

3rd Mothering Sunday (in 2011)

This is the fourth Sunday in Lent. This was an occasion when young people in service could go home taking bunches of primroses and violets for their mothers. Simnel cakes were baked and given. This is a rich fruit cake baked with a layer of marzipan in the centre and decorated with a topping of marzipan and flowers.

On Mothering Sunday, above all other,
Every child should dine with his mother.

6th Old Lady Day

“On Old Lady Day the latter
The cold comes over the water.”

10th Passion Sunday (in 2011)

Also known as Carling Sunday. Carlings are grey peas that are soaked, boiled and fried, and eaten on this day.

On this day in 1633 a bunch of bananas was put in a shop window, the first time they had been so displayed in England.

11th St Guthlar’s

He was a hermit who lived in the fens and in whose honour Crowland Abbey was built by King Ethelbad.

14th First Cuckoo Day

The cuckoo is released from a basket by the old woman at Heathfield Fair in Sussex. He flies up England carrying warmer days with him.

The cuckoo sings from St Tiburtius Day (14th April) to St Johns Day (24th June).

“The cuckoo comes in April,
And stays the month of May,
Sings a song at midsummer
And then goes away.”

“The cuckoo is a pretty bird,
She singeth as she flies;
She bringeth us good tidings,
She telleth us no lies;
She sucketh all sweet flowers
To keep her throttle clear,
And every time she singeth
‘Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo,’
The summer draweth near.”

17th Palm Sunday (in 2011)

The Sunday before Easter (6th Sunday in Lent). It can fall anywhere between 15th March and 18th April. A time for eating figgy pudding.

When people used to wear a sprig of pussy willow

“I have a little pussy,
Her coat is silver grey,
I found her in the meadow,
Not very far away.
My little silver pussy
Will never be a cat
‘Cause she’s a pussy-willow
Now – what do you think of that?”

19th St Alphage (952-1012)

Murdered by the Danes at Greenwich, where his church still stands.

21st St Anselm (1033-1109)

Archbishop of Canterbury.

23rd St George’s Day

The real St George was a Christian born in Cappadogg, and served in the Roman Army. The legend of him fighting a dragon was added in the 14th century.

He was introduced to Britain by returning crusaders, and by the mid 14th century he had replaced Edward the Confessor as patron saint of England.

“Oh, where is St George,
Oh, where is he oh?
He is out in his long boat all on the salt sea oh.
Up flies the kite and down falls the lark oh,
Aunt Ursula Birdwood she had an old ewe
But it died in her own park oh!”

24th St Mark’s Eve

‘Tis now, replied the village belle,
St Mark’s mysterious eve,
And all that old traditions tell
I tremblingly believe;
How, when the midnight signal tolls,
Along the churchyard green,
A mournful train of sentenced souls
In winding sheets are seen.
The ghosts of all whom death shall down
Within the coming year,
In pale procession walk the gloom,
Amid the silence drear.

“On St Mark’s Eve, at twelve o’clock,
The fair maid she will watch her smock
To find her husband in the dark
By praying unto good St Mark.”

Bertha was a maiden fair
Dwelling in the old Minster-square;
From her fireside she could see
Sidelong its rich antiquity—
Far as the Bishop’s garden wall
Where Sycamores and elm trees tall
Full-leav’d the forest had outstript—
By no sharp north wind ever nipt
So shelter’d by the mighty pile—
Bertha arose and read awhile
With forehead ‘gainst the window-pane—
Again she tried and then again
Until the dusk eve left her dark
Upon the Legend of St. Mark.
From plaited lawn-frill, fine and thin
She lifted up her soft warm chin,
With aching neck and swimming eyes
And daz’d with saintly imageries.

– from “The Eve of St. Mark” by John Keats, 1819

27th St Zita’s Day

Patron saint of housewives, servants and bakers. Invoked by people who cannot find their keys.

28th

On this day in 1772 a goat died. He had twice circumnavigated the globe, first in the ‘Dolphin’ and secondly in the renowned ‘Endeavour’ with Captain Cook. The Lords of the Admiralty had just previous to her death signed a warrant admitting her to the privileges of a pensioner of Greenwich Hospital, a boon she did not live to enjoy.

29th

Noah left the ark, having entered it on 17th March. Or so it says in the Bible.

30th May Day Eve

Also Beltane, Walpurgis night. The ancient festival of Beltane began when the winter sun had died. Walpurgis night is an important witch’s festival.

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April Miscellany

April was the first month of the ancient Alban calendar and the second of the early Roman calendar.

April’s name comes from aperire, Latin for “to open”, a reference to the trees unfolding and the earth opening to produce new spring life.

April presents no prettier picture than that of green fields, with rustic stiles between the openings of the hedges, where old footpaths go in and out, winding along, until lost in the distance; with children scattered here and there, singly or in groups, just as the daisies are, all playing or gathering flowers . . . All day long the bees are busy among the bloom, making an unceasing murmur, for April is beautiful to look upon; and if she hides her sweet face for a few hours behind the rain-clouds, it is only that she may appear again peeping out through the next burst of sunshine in a veil of fresh green, through which we see the red and white of her bloom.

“If April first sees cloud and rain
Then beer will smell like an open drain”

If the first three days of April be foggy
Rain in June will make the lanes boggy

“Never trust an April sunshine”

“Snow in April is manure”

“Fogs in April bring a poor wheat crop”

“Married beneath April’s changing skies,
A chequered path before you lies.”

“If it thunder on All Fools’ Day
It brings good crops of grass and hay”

“When April blows his horn
‘Tis good for hay and corn”

“A cold April and a full barn”

“April showers bring forth May flowers”

“Better on April sop
Than a May clot”

“When you hear the cuckoo shout
‘Tis time to plant your tates out!”

“When the cuckoo sings on an empty bough
Keep your hay and sell your cow.”

 

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