From dinner to desserts, hot cross buns to whipping the herring, we take a look at some of the ways Easter is celebrated in Ireland.

Easter in Ireland is always an enjoyable occasion. It is an important event for Irish people, as it has deep historical, cultural and, of course, religious significance across the country.

Easter in Ireland is about renewal after deprivation, fasting and feasting. It heralds the arrival of spring and an abundance of local ingredients after the harsh winter when food stocks were low.

Celebrating the arrival of Easter in Ireland involves many traditions, some of which have lasted for generations and some of which are more modern, but most revolve around food, delicious Irish food.

So, let’s take a look at the unique, and tasty, traditions and customs of Easter in Ireland.


Easter Sunday falls on a different date each year. It takes place on the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or after the vernal (spring) equinox. Vernal means fresh or new like the spring. If the full moon falls on a Sunday, then Easter is the next Sunday. The spring equinox falls on March 20 or 21, therefore, Easter Sunday can be between March 22 and April 25 each year.

Once the date of Easter Sunday is known, the people of Ireland can start preparing.


Shrove Tuesday takes place the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent. Lent is when the fasting practices start. Shrove Tuesday is the day that people in Irish homes use up all the delicious, tempting ingredients that they cannot eat whilst fasting. The tastiest way to use up eggs, milk, flour, butter and sugar is to make pancakes. Traditional Irish pancakes are thin and usually served sprinkled with sugar and lemon juice.

On Shrove Tuesday, in Irish homes, the eldest unmarried daughter flips the first pancake. If the pancake falls to the floor, she would have little hope of getting married during the coming year.


In the old days, Lent in Ireland was a time of religious contemplation and fasting, as it commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert. Lent lasts from Ash Wednesday until sundown on Maundy Thursday evening, however, the fasting continued until Holy Saturday. People were allowed to stop fasting on Sundays as these were feast days.

In Ireland, people were also allowed to stop fasting on March 17, the feast of St Patrick. They were also allowed to consume one alcoholic drink to wet the Saint’s head.


Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday. On Ash Wednesday in Ireland, religious people attend a special mass where the priest makes the sign of the cross on their foreheads. The priest makes the sign using ashes from the burned palms of the previous year’s Palm Sunday ceremony.

Then lent and the period of fasting and deprivation begins.

For centuries, most Catholics in Ireland would have fasted during Lent, giving up meat, milk, cheese, butter, eggs, and alcohol and attending mass every day.

However, nowadays, in Ireland, not many people practise fasting, though many still do ‘give up’ something for Lent, for example, alcohol, chocolate, cigarettes, etc.


Good Friday is the day when Christians commemorate Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.

Decades ago, Good Friday was the day of the ‘black fast’. Most people abstained from food altogether, but if they did eat, it would be a meagre meal of barley bread, cress and water. Most people spent the day attending mass, and work was discouraged — not that anyone would have the energy to work.

However, once the strict rules were relaxed, Catholics could have one meat-free meal, which is how fish became associated with Good Friday.

Today, many Irish households still eat fish on Good Friday, but the meal is a more convivial affair than a form of penance.

Information first appered here