The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #27721   Message #341047
Posted By: Malcolm Douglas
15-Nov-00 - 09:18 AM
Thread Name: Help: Pace Egging?
Subject: RE: Help: Pace Egging?
The following is taken from Charles Kightly's The Customs and Ceremonies of Britain (Thames and Hudson, 1986); not the best reference available, but the only one I have to hand:

"Paste (Pasch: Easter) or Pace Egging was ... popular throughout Northern England and Scotland, and particularly in Lancashire and Cheshire, where it survived until at least the Second World War... In earlier generations, [the song} would have been sung by young men - doubtless more interested in money and "small beer" than eggs - as part of a Pace-Egg Play, a regional variant of the Mumming Play: similar plays were also much acted in West Yorkshire, where revived local versions can be seen on Good Friday at Mytholmroyd, Midgley, Brighouse and elsewhere in the Halifax area.

Once collected (or, in recent times, bought) "real" Easter eggs are still often painted, decorated or dyed either by boiling in a coloured cloth or with some natural dye like onion skins (for a golden-brown egg); furze-blossom (yellow); "Pasque flower" (bright green) or cochineal (for the favourite red).  Then (if not eaten for breakfast) they may be concealed about the garden for an egg hunt: or, especially in northern Britain, hard-boiled for egg rolling down a hill or slope - the winner being, according to local preference, the one which rolls furthest, survives most rolls, or is successfully aimed between two pegs.  In many places this ancient sport... takes place on Easter Monday at a site fixed by long tradition.  Such include Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh; the castle moat at Penrith, Cumbria; Bunker's Hill, Derby; and, best publicized of all, Avenham Park at Preston, Lancashire, where tens of thousands roll and then eat both eggs and (latterly) oranges.

Alternatively, the eggs may be "dumped" (another northern habit) by being clasped firmly in the hand and smashed against that of an opponent until one or other breaks: or (as in parts of south-western England) a number may be marked and "shackled" (shaken) together in a sieve, the last to crack being the winner.  All such old egg customs, however, are now in acute danger from the 20th century's principal contribution to the Easter canon, namely the chocolate Easter egg."