Written by Amy Baker,
20th April 2017

With Easter done and dusted for another year, you might be wondering how you could be celebrating this time next year. Today we run you through Easter time in Ireland.

Fresh from the Easter weekend, with our bellies still full of chocolate, we thought that now might be a prize time to let you know how Ireland celebrates Easter. In the most recent census 78.3% of respondents identified as Roman Catholic, which means you can expect more religious celebrations than you might encounter in the UK. To help you know what to expect this time next year, today we talk you through how Easter is celebrated on the Emerald Isle.

After the church service is done, most Irish folk will get together with friends and family for a traditional roast dinner, complete with roast potatoes and all the trimmings.

Do the Irish celebrate Easter?

Absolutely! Ireland has been celebrating the arrival of spring for centuries as it’s a time when the land becomes fertile, birds begin to lay eggs, and baby animals are being born. Once Christianity was introduced to Ireland around the time of St Patrick, many of these traditional springtime customs became associated with the resurrection of Jesus.

Nowadays, bar Christmas and St Patrick’s Day, Easter is widely-considered the most important religious holiday in Ireland. You may even find the pubs a little lighter on custom in the run up to the holiday, as a large amount of the population will be adhering to Lent. Should you be moving your whole family to Ireland, Easter tends to fall in the midst of a three-week break from school.

Modern day Easter in Ireland

If you’re Christian, a typical Irish Easter Sunday will start with attending a special church service celebrating Jesus’ resurrection. Interestingly, many of Ireland’s churches have stained glass windows specifically positioned to catch the early morning sunshine at this time of year – this means Easter Sunday church services are usually timed to coincide with sunrise.

After the church service is done, most Irish folk will get together with friends and family for a traditional roast dinner, complete with roast potatoes and all the trimmings. Post dinner is the time for Easter egg giving. As we mentioned, a lot of Irish people will participate in Lent – so this dinner is their chance to give in to all those vices they’ve been craving for 40 days and 40 nights: often meat, sweets and booze.


New clothes and Easter eggs are important parts of an Irish Easter


Easter opening hours

On most Sundays in Ireland, you’ll find that post offices, banks, and many businesses are closed. Easter Sunday is no different – in fact, any of the businesses that do usually open their doors on Sundays (pubs, restaurants) will choose to stay closed so that they can spend time with their families. Public transport tends to run to the same schedule as the rest of the year. If you’re making a journey to visit loved ones, you can expect the roads to be a lot quieter than usual.

Modern Day Irish Easter traditions

As with the UK, you can expect to see chocolate eggs and bunnies, Easter birds and bonnets – all the usual symbols of Easter that we have in the UK. It’s also traditional for folk to wear brand new clothes on Easter Sunday. Many young girls will wear the traditional Irish Easter outfit of yellow dress, white shoes, and green ribbons in their hair. These colours and new clothes are said to signify purity and a fresh new start to life.

Ancient traditions

Some of Ireland’s oldest Easter traditions are still adhered. Although you certainly won’t be expected to follow them, it’s good to know about their existence.

Easter is a time for spring cleaning your house, inside and out, and for buying new clothes to be worn on Easter Sunday.

Some of Ireland’s oldest Easter traditions are still adhered to

When Good Friday arrives, some devout Catholics won’t eat until midday, and only then will they have a piece of bread and three sips of water, to honour the Holy Trinity. Other traditions include, taking your shoes off when entering a church, staying silent from midday until 3pm, planting seeds to bring a blessing on your crops, and getting a haircut – which was said to prevent headaches during the year!

Easter Sunday was once celebrated with an early morning hike to the nearest hilltop with your family in order to catch sunrise, the light of which is said to symbolise Jesus rising from his grave. The traditional feast served at Easter was leek soup, followed by roast lamb.

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