From British Folk Customs by Christina Hole:
“In Oxfordshire, even now, older people sometimes refer to Easter Monday as Ball Monday, because of the numerous ball games that used to be played on that day. Stoolball, knurr-and-spell, trapball, ninepins, handbasll, bowls and football were all customary pastimes of the Easter holidays.”
Not so different from “March Madness” or the opening of the baseball season, when you think of it, except it is part of Easter celebration.
Even though the most sacred of the Christian holidays, Easter’s celebrations have come from pagan origins. The word “Easter” comes from the Saxon goddess of spring, Ostara, who is said to have turned an injured bird into a rabbit that laid rainbow-colored eggs–but only one day a year! Both rabbits and eggs are, of course, common fertility symbols.
I can imagine some of our Regency characters playing “ball” games with eggs. Egg Toss–throwing eggs in the air and catching them until they break. Egg Shackling–grasping a hard-boiled egg in one’s right hand and using it as a weapon to strike the eggs of other players. The winner is the one with the intact egg at game’s end. Egg Rolling, still traditional in Northern England, Scotland, Ulster and the Isle of Man–rolling colored hard-boiled eggs down a slope until they are cracked and broken, at which time they are eaten.
Which brings me to my UNDONE theme. The word undone can mean “destroyed” or “opened,” just like an Easter egg rolled down a hill on Ball Monday!
Don’t forget! It is All Undone at my new blog this month. Tomorrow I’ll announce last week’s winners. Wednesday I’ll tell you about Michelle Willingham’s and my Drive By Booksigning, and Friday I feature the second of my four anthology mates, Louise Allen, whose story in Pleasurably Undone is Disrobed and Dishonored. Yes there will be prizes both days!
What celebration did you do over Easter? Do you have any pagan-like Spring traditions?