Pasg Hapus - so much more hopeful than last year, at least


Not yet six and still dark on the morning of Maundy Thursday on a small holding in Ceredigion and a already the birds have started their wonderful layered din.

With no chapel this year, Easter will be limited to visiting family and friends in the garden/ park and eating chocolate. So much better than the isolation of last year's Covid cursed festival, however!

My home here has a hard floor, a slate roof and ( except when the wind is from the south west, in which case it blows rain straight through the stone walls) is for the most part dry. I spent the last three years in the 1750s, though. For y Werin Bobl, there would have been true relief to have reached this point in time again. It would have meant that the food had lasted and the body had withstood the cold and damp of a beaten mud floor and the sixteen hours of darkness that's a winter in Wales. The drive and even violence of spring would have been tangible to people living only a clom wall away from the natural world. It would have been almost impossible to sleep through the riot of the dawn chorus even if the farm animals, themselves awake and calling to be fed, would let you.

The privations of Lent were over and the Easter period, traditionally lasting for weeks, was begun. As for the other important church/ folk festivals, people would have woken up on this morning with a feeling of excitement, the buzz that most of us now maybe only really get on Christmas morning, our birthdays or the morning we set off on holiday. With Lent at an end the dark clothes could be replaced with something cheerful; the salt meat of winter with lamb or kid and the eating of eggs and playing games was allowed once more. As in most Eighteenth Century festivals, there were some strange rituals still extant from Pagan and Medieval times. 'Making Christ's bed' is recorded in the traditions of Tenby, for example, in which, on Good Friday 'a number of young persons would gather a quantity of long reed leaves from the river and weave them into the shape of a man. The figure was then laid on a wooden cross in a retired part of a field or garden and left there.' I love this idea, that a year's wind, rain and garden bugs would slowly neutralise the agony and ignominy of the cross as the people celebrated the hope of spring.


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