Medieval Easter Day Rituals and Traditions
The dawning of Easter Day was special and memorable for medieval people, with many gathering before dawn to watch the sun rise. Members of each parish would stand near the parish church and sing hymns as the sun slowly rose and church bells rang out. After greeting the first rays, they would be led to church by the parish priest, singing hymns of joy as they went.
As well as the church’s celebrations, Easter Day was a day for pleasure and fun after six weeks of fasting. Anyone who could afford it, would wear a new set of clothes on Easter Sunday. For many, this could be the only time of year they got a new item of clothing.
Children were involved in the fun, with parents hiding hard boiled eggs as a symbol of the apostles finding the risen Christ in the tomb, and there would be egg rolling and parades.
For many, the main thing to look forward to was that Easter Sunday was one of the few days in the year when no one had to work. It was traditional for servants to present their lord with a small gift, perhaps a dish of food or a new-born animal, and in return, the lord would provide a feast for his servants and their families.
For the wealthier sections of society, the Medieval Easter Court was a time to re-establish friendships, cement business relationships and join their peers at a sumptuous feast, a feast which contained all the foods which had been banned during Lent.