Easter Sunday, like Christmas and New Year’s Days, is unusual in that we can count on one thing – the supermarkets will be closed. Good Friday has, in recent years, escaped this consumer curfew and nowadays is very much like any other public holiday. It was not always so.
When I was a young girl Easter Sunday was just like any other Sunday. No shops, apart from the occasional sweet shop, were open – but Easter Monday was different to any other Monday of the year. Easter Monday was fun.
In the weeks before Easter a satisfying display of chocolate eggs, gifts from neighbours and family, accumulated in the front room. They were routinely counted as each new addition, in its gaudy box, was added to the top of the bookcase. On Easter Monday I would carefully choose a selection of the Cadbury’s, Rowntree’s or Terry’s eggs to take on the bus into Preston for a family day at Avenham Park.
The park is a natural amphitheatre which slopes down to the River Ribble. I suspect we might have taken a picnic, but Easter Monday afternoon was all about one thing for me, and all the children in Preston who were also there with their families – chocolate.
As a brass band played and a steam engine shunted backwards and forwards over the railway bridge I would roll the glittery wrapped eggs down the hill and my cousins would roll them back up. Eggs which were divided in two and not stuck together were disappointing – flying apart in the air and losing their foil wrapper at the first throw. What was needed was a sealed egg which required some serious bouncing on the grassy hill before smashing, satisfyingly, into pieces. The manufacturers seemed to change their specification each year, so choosing the right eggs was always a risk.
I would like to remember these rituals as being performed on sunny afternoons but unfortunately they were often played to the accompaniment of a blustering wind or fine drizzle. As I got older we went for hikes to Brock Bottoms of Nicky Nook, instead, but we always took some chocolate eggs for rolling. I have rolled eggs in Essex, Norfolk and Yorkshire on Easter Monday. It’s a Preston tradition and continues on Avenham Park to this day, and wherever I am.
I have established some rituals of my own in recent years. I saw the Manchester Passion on television in 2006 and was spellbound. The city has always had a reputation for inventive TV. Granada was the flagship television company, but this ambitious live performance was broadcast by BBC3. The entire city centre was its location and members of the public were the supporting cast. Tim Booth of James was Judas and Bez, Tony Wilson and Chris Bisson had cameo roles. I found the You Tube video a few years ago and now watch it every Easter Sunday. LINK HERE
The originals of all the songs are by Manchester bands – from Joy Divison to Oasis and M People. You can listen to the playlist HERE
Preston Passion. Good Friday 2012I had hoped to see something similar at the performance of the Passion at Preston Bus Station in 2012. Unfortunately, Fern Britton’s narration was no match for Keith Allen’s Pontius Pilate. Last year’s Manchester Passion in Cathedral Gardens was a traditional take with the cast dressed as if they had walked out of a traditional Christmas card. They were just missing the sheep. It was a worthy performance on a sunny day and attracted a large audience but the ambition of the 2006 version has yet to be surpassed.