Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/201

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153
CELEBRATION OF THE CALENDAR

tells us that it is still the custom for young folks in East Yorkshire to go to the nearest market-town on Easter Eve, where they buy some new article of dress to wear on the morrow in order to prevent the rooks from soiling their clothes during the coming year; and he quotes from Poor Robin's Almanac:—

"At Easter let your clothes be new.
Or else be sure you will it rue."

Egg-Saturday concluded the period of egg eating before Lent, and Easter began the resumption of the use of this article of diet; hence eggs were a principal feature of the Easter celebration. Then as now it was the custom to colour the Pasche eggs, as they were called, from the passover. Such eggs were considered by the young people in the light of fairings and were highly esteemed. Egg-giving was so prevalent a custom that it gave rise to the popular proverb: "I'll warrant you for an egg at Easter."

May-day was one of the great periods of open-air festivities. So anxiously did people look forward to the day that, as Shakespeare says, they could not sleep.

"Pray, sir, be patient; 'tis as much impossible …
Unless we sweep 'em from the door with cannons …
To scatter 'em, as 'tis to make 'em sleep
On a May morning." (Henry VIII.)