Monday, April 18, 2022

Easter Monday

 Here in the lower, left-hand corner of our poor old United (sic) States it is a beautiful day, cool breeze, warm - but not too warm - sunny day.  The weather thingummy on my far-too-smart-for-its-own-good phone tells me it's 73° fahrenheit.

Here in this Irish-by-descent-and-by-marriage family Easter Monday is an historical day to be reckoned with as the 1916 Easter rising took place on this liturgical day.  The following clip shows a 1950 parade in Dublin commemorating the Easter rising on its 34th anniversary.  I suspect that you could find my father-in-law, a captain in the Irish Army, somewhere among the participants.

There's still an Easter Monday commemoration, if not as elaborate a parade.  A glimpse or two from the Irish Defense Forces news service and RTE:

But Easter Monday used to be a different sort of day entirely.  From Kevin Danaher's The Year in Ireland: Irish Calendar Customs:

Easter Monday was a favourite day for fairs and markets at which there were not only buying and selling of livestock and merchandise, but also games and sports, sideshows, dancing, eating and drinking,  gambling and faction fighting.  It was also a holiday [Holy Day] of obligation on which Catholics were required to go to Mass and to abstain from work, and the Church authorities decided that this sacred character accorded ill with the riotous behaviour at many of the secular gatherings on the same day.  The bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Dr John Doyle – the famous “J.K.L.',  - described before a government inquiry into the State of the  Poor in Ireland  (Parliamentary Papers, 1830, vii. p. 453) how he prevailed upon his fellow bishops to petition the Pope to abrogate the religious obligation on this day and on Whit Monday, so that Catholics might observe it as an ordinary working day, and how the Pope had acceded to their request. From the year 1829 Easter Monday was no longer a holiday of obligation.  Dr Doyle's wish met with some opposition, as shown  by a remark of his while giving his evidence to the Commission of Inquiry on this matter:

“A very curious occurrence took place on Easter Monday in Carlow.   I am carrying on there a very extensive work.  I told the men they should work on that day.  There is a work at the other end of the town conducted by a Protestant; and he said to his men, as I was informed,  'You shall not work; it is an old  holiday, and you shall keep it.'   


Before long, however, the fairs and markets on this day lost their festive character and became merely trading occasions.

One interesting result of the change was that some of the customs hitherto observed on Easter Monday, such as the children's  egg-feast, . . . . held on this day in County Wexford,  either died out or were transferred to Easter Sunday.  This is clearly shown by the Callan diarist, Amhlaoibh O Súilleabháin.  In 1827 he wrote:

“The sixteenth day, Easter Monday or the day of the Easter eggs: a sunny,  joyful still morning:  midday, the maidens and youths eating their Easter eggs and drinking in the public houses:  evening, the public houses still full of people:  the day very fine.”  While in 1830,  after the bishops' decision had taken effect he reported:

“The twelfth day, Easter Monday, that is the Day of the Parcels of Easter Eggs.  A fine, mild day:  light showers and bright intervals with a gentle west wind.  There was no Parcel of Easter eggs being consumed by youths and maidens in one another's company.  There was neither sport nor laughter, drinking nor dancing.  Most (of the young people) stayed at home,  for Easter Monday is no longer a Holiday of obligation.  They removed the double obligation from it;  for their Lordships think that a Holiday of obligation is rather harmful in a heretical land like Ireland as the Protestants put fairs and markets on Catholic Holidays,  of set purpose to bring them into disrepute.”

We may remark, however, that he is not correct in his last observation;  fairs and markets on church holidays were common in Ireland even before the Reformation.

So in summary:  Re: Holy Day of Obligation:  Catholic bishop: opposed

                                                                            Local Protestant: in favour. 

Funny old world, isn't it.  Looks like it always has been.


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