Easter Traditions and Things to See & Do
If you are looking for interesting things to do on a spring or Easter break, we've put together some local traditions that are typical around this time of year and where you might be able to watch or take part in them.
Every Easter for the last 200 years, the villagers of Hallaton and neighbouring Medbourne have squared off across a field for the prize of a barrel (called a "bottle") of ale.
Each team kicks a bottle towards its village, hoping to cross the far stream before their rivals and win all the booze for themselves. While the gouging of eyes is forbidden, practically every other dirty fighting trick is allowed, and broken bones are a regular occurrence.
Egg jarping is the art of tapping one hard-boiled egg against another to see which one survives intact. If you think you have what it takes to win, you should head down to the egg jarping world championships in Peterlee, County Durham this Easter. Our Hallgarth The Manor hotel is located nearby if you fancy seeing what it is all about this Easter.
Every 1 April, Preston Council holds its annual Easter egg rolling race, where you roll your egg from the top of a local hill to see whose reaches the bottom first. The eggs rarely survive the journey intact. If you fancy taking a visit to watch or take part, our Pendulum and The New Hobbit hotels are nearby.
Maypole festivals are one of the most obvious artifacts from our pagan heritage. At Easter and midsummer, dancers celebrate spring, new life and the turning of the seasons by wrapping a wreathed pole in long ribbons. Maypoles can be seen on village greens throughout the country, kept from one year to the next specifically for the annual Maypole dance. The largest maypole in England is 30 metres high. It can be found in Barwick, Yorkshire which is located near The Bridge Hotel & Spa hotel.
In the UK, many children build and decorate colourful paper bonnets at school before Easter, then join a local parade through their town or village on Easter Monday to show them off. New clothes at Easter are traditionally considered to be good luck.
Of the numerous Easter parades in Britain, the one at London's Battersea Park is an event to watch out for. The spectacular Easter Parade in Battersea Park is annually held on Easter Sunday. The event traditionally starts at 3 p.m. and consists of beautifully decorated floats, with a wonderfully decorated Jersey float at the back of the parade, made from lovely spring flowers and bearing the Easter Princess and her attendants. The procession is attended by thousands of men, children and women wearing bonnets. This particular fashion of wearing bonnets by women during the Easter parade comes from the iconic fashion statement created in 1858 when Queen Victoria attended the Battersea Park procession dressed in a new spring bonnet and gown. The tradition exists to this day and has expanded to such an extent that it is counted to be one of the inseparable Easter traditions here. The Manor Elstree and Hunton Park hotels are located in North London if you are looking to visit the capital for Easter celebrations.
The Morris Dance is a complex choreography involving white suits, belts and sticks. The tradition has been practised, mainly across England, since the 15th century and, like the maypole festival, is meant to celebrate the coming of spring. Cotswold Morris is the native dance of Oxfordshire and the surrounding regions. It is danced with sticks and hankies, and usually with bells tied around your legs. If you would like to see the Morris dancers in action why not book a stay at our Whately Hall or Wroxton House hotels, near Banbury, Oxfordshire.
The Jack In The Green
The Jack in the Green is a foliage-covered man who leads a troupe of Morris dancers through towns and villages on Mayday and at Easter. The tradition, which exists across northern Europe in various forms, was considered "bawdy" in Victorian times and died out, but has been revived in many towns in the last 40 years.
The Rochester Sweeps festival was revived during 1981 and still has a Jack in the Green Ceremony where the Jack is awoken by dancers and sweeps on Blue Bell Hill at dawn on May Morning (approximately 5:32 am) at the Blue Bell Hill picnic area. The Jack is paraded through the street (usually on the Bank Holiday Monday) starting in Rochester Castle Gardens and taking a circular route. The festival is attended by hundreds of Morris sides. Our Orida Maidstone and Holiday Inn Maidstone hotels are located nearby.
Oyster Morris have their own Green Man who combines the roles of Jester and announcer dressed in white and green. The Jack is central to the Whitstable May Day celebrations. Our Broome Park hotel is located not far from Whitstable.
The residents of Dunstable have been rolling oranges down the steep slopes of Pascombe Pit every Good Friday for some years now. Usually the activity is serenaded by a Punch and Judy show, the Salvation Army band and a gang of "pelters" who throw fruit at the competitors. If you would like to visit then why not stay at our nearby hotels, Chicheley Hall and Harben House.