REMEMBERING EASTER PAST

It’s funny how the colour and smell of a particular day stays in your mind from childhood. One vivid memory I have is Easter Sunday, waking up to the swish of the shoe brush and catching sight of Mum on her two knees at the back door polishing a line of shoes, eighteen shoes in total. I’m sure they were lined up every Sunday morning but Easter Sunday had a different feel to it.

Like Christmas Day, Easter Sunday oozed anticipation and excitement. After stock piling our sweets during Lent, we would eagerly wait for Easter Day and look forward to all the treats to be had after mass. But first, we faced the walk to the chapel in our freshly polished shoes and new outfits, a three mile round trip along a quiet narrow country road.

Grass, daisies and buttercups grew in the middle of that road. Stopping and starting to pick some flowers we hopped and skipped our way to mass in the early morning sunshine. I can only remember sunshine. There mustn’t have been any rain on Easter Sunday, ever, because I don’t remember rain. I don’t remember much about the mass either apart from fidgeting and placing buttercups under each other’s chins to see who liked butter. My Mum and Dad must have had the patience of Job, keeping us quiet and mannerly while sitting in a line on a long wooden pew. Once it was over, out we raced to pluck the flowers of the whin bushes the whole way home.

A ritual of egg boiling ensued. First we decorated our eggs with faces; colour and names, and then placed them in a pot with the yellow flowers from the whin bushes. As they boiled Mum would tell us about how she celebrated Easter Sunday when she was younger.  Usually, she would have been invited to the neighbour’s house where teenagers had made an Easter house in the ruins of an old cottage. In the house they would create a fire from sticks and rubbish. In old pots they made tea and boiled eggs from their own hens. They added tea leaves to make them brown and whin blossoms to make them yellow. I guess Mum was carrying on this old tradition when she taught us to do the same.

Whenever our eggs were cooked, we compared colour and took them outside to have egg races. Normally this involved rolling the eggs down a hill but I have vivid memories of us all rolling down the hill. We continued to play outside but mostly we couldn’t wait until dinnertime. We had good reason. In our house, sweets were forbidden before dinner so we had to suffer the long anticipated wait until we received our treats, Easter eggs and Easter cake.

After dinner Mum would divide up all the Easter eggs and we would munch our way through the eggs and our individual hoard of sweets all afternoon until it was time to visit Granny Drummond who always prepared a special Easter tea for us that included more cake, pastries and sweets.

Easter Sunday ended as it began, happy and content. Thinking back, I realise I got as many treats as the children do today but I wonder do people in the country still built makeshift fires and roll eggs down hills? My understanding is that the Easter Bunny has taken over and I’m not sure if kids stock pile forbidden goodies but if they do they are sure to be in for a treat this Easter Day. And I hope you are too. Happy Easter!