For the Easter season this year, why not has a Celtic Ozark Easter. Throughout the Ozarks, Easter is a very important religious holiday. The same is true in Ireland. Catholicism has been the dominant religion on Ireland for centuries, and you certainly can argue that Easter is the most important Roman Catholic holiday. As a result, there are many traditions that have grown up around Easter, and can easily be added to your Celtic Ozark Easter Celebration.
Easter falls during a time of year that was much filled with old rituals and holidays for spring. Most of the Celtic holidays centered on the Vernal Equinox. Lots of fertility rituals also centered on Celtic Spring.
Even the mythos of the Easter Bunny can be found in the old Celtic rites. In springtime, people used to celebrate “Eostar”, the goddess of spring. Note the similar naming convention. Little evidence is still available to us today, but the legend goes that the goddess Eostar found a bird, wounded, on the ground late in winter. To save its life, she transformed it into a hare. The transformation, however, was not complete, as the bird/bunny retained the ability to lay eggs. Well, you can take it from there.
The name Good Friday, which is a big Christian ritual leading up to Easter Sunday, is generally believed to be a corruption of Gaelic Irish “God’s Friday”. In Ireland, since the days of the early church, it has always been dedicated to penance, fasting, and prayer. As is the case with many Roman Christian decisions, the holiday was incorporated into Christian worship around the day of crucifixion for Christ.
Here are some of the other interesting rituals that surround Easter, from a Celtic perspective.
• Spring cleaning used to be an old ceremony where a local priest came and blessed the house of Celtic people.
• Planting a small crop of barley or wheat to create a blessing on the family.
• Avoiding any possible bloodshed by doing no work with tools.
• Go To Confession and remain quiet for part of the day.
• Holy water is said to have curative powers on this day, so people often consumed some blessed water.
• Anyone who died on Good Friday will do directly to heaven, just like the thief on the cross.
The Saturday before Easter was also full of lots of rituals for the Irish and Scottish. Everyone would attend church and drink a few sips of holy water for health and good luck. That night, they would decorate their church with purple banners, which was considered to be the color of royalty. The lights in the church were turned off, and a candle was lit to symbolize Christ’s triumph over death.
The people of Ireland would start their Easter Sunday by getting up from bed before dawn and making their way to a hill top. They would wait to see the sun do a jig, as it rose above the rim of the earth. For those not wishing to risk damaging their eyesight by looking directly into the brightness, they would look at its reflection in a tub of water.
A celebratory dance would commence. The end of the Lenten season would also be celebrated by a mock funeral for a dead fish. Typically, a dead herring would be paraded all the way to church, as a symbol of the end of the fasting season. People would boil and paint eggs, and use them in rolling contests. Later, a cake dance, or in the Ozarks a cake walk, would bring fun to the parish. Winners would get to keep the cake. The night would finally end with a roaring bonfire, where people would dance and sing to wee hours o da mornin’.
So, try a few of these ideas for your Celtic Ozark Easter, and you too fill find a song in your heart, and a beat in your feet.