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Article: How To Have A Regency Easter

How To Have A Regency Easter  -

How To Have A Regency Easter


Daffodils | How To Have A Regency Easter

In this quiet way, the first fortnight of her visit soon passed away. Easter was approaching, and the week preceding it was to bring an addition to the family at Rosings, which in so small a circle must be important.

Pride and Prejudice

How are our Lent abstentions going? Not being particularly religious myself, I’m not a regular practitioner of the whole ‘giving up something for Lent’ thing, but I have done it in the past. In my teens, I forced myself to give up oreos, having gotten into the less than healthy habit of necking a whole sleeve of the biscuits as soon as I got home from school. These days, I like to think that I’m better at practising a bit of moderation, but I have to admit, when creme egg season rolls around, I’m on the multipacks. Yes, Easter is right around the corner, and these days, chocolate is a highlight, but it can also be a great opportunity to get together with family, have a nice lunch, and celebrate the coming of Spring, as well as enjoying the religious observances, if you’re so inclined. Would all of this have been the same in Austen’s time? Let’s have a look. 

Well, first of all, I’m sure not many people would be surprised to find out that chocolate eggs are, in the grand scheme, a recent innovation. Though dying and decorating eggs to mark the coming of Spring has been a tradition since before the advent of Christianity, the first chocolate eggs started to appear on the continent somewhere around the end of Austen’s lifetime, and would have been chocolate  the whole way through, rather than hollow - now that sounds like a challenge for your fillings! The first commercially produced Easter egg in the UK was created by J.S. Fry and Sons in 1873, followed by Cadbury in 1875. No Easter eggs for Miss Austen then, but there were still plenty of Easter traditions to tuck into.  

Easter celebrations would have begun, as they do now, on Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake day. Rather than just pouring some milk and eggs into the prefab batter you bought from the supermarket on the way home from work, however, they made a whole day of it, with the ladies of the parish racing around their parish clutching a frying pan, trying to be the one to win the Pancake Day race. In true British spirit, some towns even threw pancake parties to celebrate. Ash Wednesday would follow the next morning, and forty days and nights of observance with it. 

There would be no snoozing of the alarm for Austen on Easter Sunday itself, with Easter being a strictly observed day in the Church of England’s calendar. The whole parish would get together to observe the occasion. Perhaps the occasion might even call for a new bonnet, or perhaps just a fresh trim for the frugal. For sure, everyone would be hoping that the weather was perking up enough to exchange heavy winter dresses and furs for a lighter Spring outfit. 

Then it would be time for lunch. Like today, our Regency forebears would have enjoyed a Hot Cross Bun, with vendors lining the streets in the days running up to the big event. Lamb or ham would also have been served, much like today (although this writer would go for a veggie substitute!). After lunch, then what? We can only imagine the remainder of the Sunday being a good opportunity for Jane to get stuck in to a good bit of reading or relaxing with the family. 

We hope you have a restful and pleasant Easter period, whether you observe it or something else!

Ellen White is editor of the Jane Austen blog. If you would like to contribute to the blog, she would love to hear from you. Follow this link for more details.

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