What historical Easter traditions would Jane Austen be familiar with?
|Ways of celebrating Easter are so commonplace as to not be commented on in Jane Austen’s letters and novels. Easter has as many traditons as Chirstmas, although ways of celebrating Easter vary from place to place.
Centuries old Easter customs in Britain include well dressing, beating the bounds, Morris dancing and pace egg rolling.
Well dressing is still practiced in many Derbyshire villages. At Easter wells are decorated with beautiful pictures mainly made from flower petals. The pictures give thanks for the coming of spring.
Beating the bounds is a custom orginating in medieval times which Jane Austen’s clergyman father may well have participated in at Steventon. To beat the bounds the clergyman, village elders and boys with sticks walked along the parocial boundaries. The boys would use the sticks to strike the boundary markers whilst the clergyman and elders gave thanks.
Morris dancing is a delightful Easter custom where dangers in colourful costumes with ribbons, bells, sashes and flowers dance to the music of folk instruments like fiddles and accordions.
Pace egg rolling was a popular Easter tradition in many parts of Regency Britain. The name Pace egg comes from ‘Pasch’ meaning Easter in Old English. In Lancashine, Pace eggs were customarily rolled down a hill to symbolise the stone being rolled away from Christ’s tomb. The egg rolling contest would be won by the person whose egg went the furthest.