11 Annotations

First Reading

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Easter dates in the diary

Easter, obviously, is a moveable feast that falls on different days through the years. Here are the days it falls on in the years of the diary (old style), for anyone interested in looking up Pepys's Easters:

22 April 1659/60
14 April 1660/61
30 March 1661/62
19 April 1662/63
10 April 1663/64
26 March 1664/65
15 April 1665/66
7 April 1666/67
22 March 1667/68
11 April 1668/69

From the "Ecclesiastical Date Calendar" calculator at http://www.albion.edu/english/cal…

vincent  •  Link

Easter Sunday was the main day of celebration, formally recognized by the Council of Nicea in 325 CE. Pentecost Sunday was also observed
Religion and Pagans ?
along with hot cross buns (feast of Eostre saxon goddess...)
Easter Rabbit and eggs symbols of norse goddess Ostara ....(fertility etc)
Easter lilies (phallic symbol)
history of easter
In June 1647, England Parliament , headed by Puritans passed legislation abolishing Christmas and other holidays: "Forasmuch as the feast of the nativity of Christ, Easter, Whitsuntide, and other festivals, commonly called holy-days, have been heretofore superstitiously used and observed; be it ordained, that the said feasts, and all other festivals, commonly called holy-days, be no longer observed as festivals; any law, statute, custom, constitution, or canon, to the contrary in anywise not withstanding." - Daniel Neal, The History of the Puritans (London, 1837; rpt. Minneapolis: Klock , p. 45


In Mass USA Christmas was banned in 1659

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Easter rituals are Christian mythology substitutes for pagan Mesopotamian rituals?

From an April 14, 2003 article by Lowell Ponte in FrontPageMagazine.com:

"...In the religious mythology of ancient Mesopotamia are found Tammuz, lover of the goddess of love and sex Ishtar (one of several related names of Euro-Mediterranean pagan goddesses

Grahamt  •  Link

I was waiting for someone to debunk the joke above:
Surely it should be dated April 1st, not 14th!
Eggs were eaten at the spring festival because that is when the chickens started laying again after their winter lay-off. (sorry for the pun) The eggs in the Shrove Tuesday pancakes are the last of the old eggs stored in waterglass, and none were available between then and the start of the new laying season. (i.e. Lent - the lean time)
Hares and rabbits start gambolling around the meadows in spring (Mad March Hares) so are associated with the spring festival. As for ham, is this an American thing? I have never heard of it in (protestant) Britain nor (catholic) France. We have ham at Christmas/New Year. As for ham being associated with the end of a Jewish festival... well! In Europe we would associate lamb, not ham, with Spring/Easter as the spring born lambs are now the right size for the roasting tin.
Hot cross buns are unheard of in France so seem to be an Anglo-Saxon thing and certainly not biblical!

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Yes, well, I did finish my lead with a question mark...

In the April 23, 1660 entry annotations, David Bell posted a reference to 'Eostre' via a chat forum...the post he made reference to contained an excerpt from the April 14 Lowell Ponte article in FrontPageMagazine.com, which I found to be quite extraordinary re: pagan rituals from Mesopotamia...

When I posted the above I had been reading about Jacob and his dream and the Golan area (now Syria) and been reminded about how Abraham and Isaac had come from where the Chaldees (remember Ur?) lived...

As for Grahamt's points, they are all quite reasonable and familiar observations...spring rituals are universal and ubiquitous: I'd love to have a reference to a book which outlines the historical and cultural evolution of the Christmas, Epiphany, Lent and Easter cycles, festivities and celebrations...I'm sure there are wide variations and animist plus other traditions which are found in various Christian enclaves all around the world...eg. Africa, Asia.

Emilio  •  Link

Debate over abolishing Easter
[Enough of Easter in general - now for Easter in Pepys's time. Two annos posted by VK for the 22 Apr 1660 entry:]

The Ordinance of June 8 1645, abolishing saints' days, and the three festivals of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide:

"Forasmuch as the feast of the nativity of Christ, Easter, and Whitsuntide, and other festivals, commonly called holydays, have been heretofore superstitiously used and observed; be it ordained, that the said feasts, and all other festivals, commonly called: holydays, be no longer observed as festivals, any law, statute, custom, constitution, or canon, to the contrary in anywise notwithstanding.
"And that there may be a convenient time allotted for scholars, apprentices, and other servants, for their recreation, be it ordained, that all scholars, apprentices, and other servants, shall, with the leave of their masters, have such convenient, reasonable recreation, and relaxation from labour, every second Tuesday in the month throughout the year, as formerly they used to have upon the festivals; and masters of scholars, apprentices, and servants, shall grant to them. respectively such time for their recreation, on the aforesald. Second Tuesday in the month, as they may conveniently spare from their extraordinary necessary service and occasions; and if any difference arise between masters and servants concerning the liberty hereby granted, the next justice of peace shall reconcile it."

* * *

This issue was debated after Parliament had captured the King and was holding him at Holmby House. The following is from Daniel Neal's History of the Puritans and Certain Puritan Theologians (published 1738):

"The king was highly displeased with this ordinance; and therefore, while the affair was under debate, he put this query to the Parliament commissioners at Holmby House, April, 23, 1647.
'I desire to be out-resolved of this question, Why the new reformers discharge the keeping of Easter? My reason for this query is, I conceive the celebration of this feast was instituted by the same authority which changed the Jewish Sabbath-into the Lord's Day or Sunday, for it will not be found in Scripture where Saturday is discharged to be kept, or turned into the Sunday; wherefore it must be the Church's authority that changed the one and instituted the other; therefore my opinion is, that those who will not keep this feast may as well return to the observation of Saturday, and refuse the weekly Sunday. When anybody can show me that herein I am in an error, I shall not be ashamed to confess and amend it; till when you know my mind. C. R.' [Charles Rex]
"Sir James Harrington presented his majesty with an answer to this query, in which he denies that the change of the Sabbath was from the authority of the Church, but derives it from the authority and example of our Saviour and his apostles in the New Testament; he admits that, if there was the like mention of the observation of Easter, it would be of Divine or apostolical authority; but as the case stands, he apprehends, with great reason, that the observation of the Christian Sabbath, and of Easter stands upon a very different footing."

Chris Peach  •  Link

The essay on dress in the Pepys' Companion says that, "Women's fashions to some extent changed annually at Easter," which is probably why Pepys' has agreed to grant Elizabeth the money.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

One of the on-going challenges 21st century people have reading the Diary is figuring out what the date is that Pepys was experiencing. The problem is partly caused by Pepys living during the change from New Year being on Lady Day or January 1, and partly from Britain's Protestant refusal to abide by the Pope's decision to skip 10 days a century before. Anchoring the time of Easter in the correct part of the Christian year was the Pope's motivation -- here's the story:

The phrase “time doesn’t exist; clocks exist” is an example of time as a construct: The most famous example occurred in 1582, when the day after October 4 was October 15.
This changed occurred when the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian calendar by the order of Pope Gregory XIII.
Under the Julian calendar, a solar year was measured as 365.25 days — a tiny overestimate that, over the 1,600 years it was used throughout the Christian world, led to a discrepancy of several days.

As far as the Catholic Church was concerned, this was a problem not only for accuracy’s sake but also because it led to confusion over when Easter should be celebrated.
The Council of Nicaea decreed in 325 CE that the holiday should be observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox, but calendar drift created a discrepancy between when the equinox took place and when the calendar said it did. Hence the jump in dates.
The decision to reform the calendar came during the Council of Trent, a conference held by Catholic clergy between 1562 and 1563 in response to the Reformation.
Pope Gregory chose October as the time to “lose” 10 days because there were no major Christian holidays during that period.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Our 21st century ideas of what Easter means should be put aside. Different things were normal in different places. For instance, in Sweden:

[Author Fredrik] Skott traces the idea of the Easter witch to the 16th century, when a fear of witches as agents of Satan arrived in Sweden.

In witch hunts of the 1660s and 1670s, several thousand people were tried for allegedly making pacts with the devil. Hundreds were executed.

One story Swedes told at that time was that witches flew to a location called Blåkulla to commune with Satan on witches’ Sabbaths, often said to occur on Easter. The means of transportation could be brooms, poles, cows, or even people — as long as they were greased with ointment stored in horns provided by the devil himself.
In Blåkulla, the ordinary world reversed: witches sat around a table facing outward, old people became young, and women took men’s roles.

The belief in Blåkulla survived for centuries. In the mid-19th century, Swedish Easter was many things: a sacred Christian holiday, a festive work-free day celebrated with pranks, and a time of real fear of witches. People lit bonfires and painted tar crosses on barn doors to ward off evil. Many people in western Sweden also began dressing as witches.

In the Easter witch tradition, teenagers and young adults donned worn clothes turned inside out. Cross-dressing was common: Boys might appear as old witches while girls could play the role of male trolls. Participants painted their faces or wore cloth or paper masks, often with hair and eyebrows made of moss. Some carried brooms, horns, or coffee pots symbolizing the feasts of Blåkulla.

The costumed witches traveled around town, playing tricks in an effort to convince people that real witches were roaming the land. That might mean knocking over wagons, riding other people’s horses and leaving them sweaty and tired, or climbing onto roofs and pouring ash down chimneys. They might also stop at houses, begging for something to eat or for a drink of schnapps.

Often, the masked witches and trolls anonymously delivered “Easter letters,” sometimes by throwing them at a house along with a log of wood and fleeing before they could be caught. The letters usually held a painting of a witch and often a verse inviting the reader to join the witches’ Sabbath. The verses might simply be playful, or they might contain an insult to a recipient believed to have done something wrong.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


The Easter witch tradition survives in Sweden today, in a different form. On Maundy Thursday or Easter Sunday, groups of young girls dress up in aprons and kerchiefs and visit neighbors or relatives, singing songs or giving out drawings in exchange for sweets or money. Much like bunnies and baby chicks, they are adorable, a far cry from the wild Easter witches of yore.

Easter Witches as Pseudo-Ostensive Action
By: Fredrik Skott
Béaloideas, Iml. 82 (2014), pp. 67–84
An Cumann Le Béaloideas Éireann/Folklore of Ireland Society

I wonder how they REALLY thought about and celebrated Easter in the 1660s in England.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Easter Sunday traditions ... are based on pagan superstitions, which of course is why the Puritans didn’t celebrate the holiday. (The Puritans didn’t like Christmas, either.)
For the early Puritans, celebrating the Lord’s Day 52 times a year was quite enough.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.










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