Easter traditions

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In the 20th century Easter came to be looked upon as the time when Jersey came to life after the winter, marking the start of the tourism season. But traditional Easter activities go back much further.

Good Friday picnic

An easter beach outing with horse and trap in 1918
The tradition has disappeared, but Good Friday used to be a time for a beach picnic. Part of the fare was limpets, taken from the rocks and cooked on the spot, and eaten with hot bread cake gache a fouée. From the 19th century onwards Hot Cross Buns became part of the Easter tradition, some considerable time after they were first popular in England.

Limpets are a conical mollusc which attach themselves to rocks and stones which are uncovered at low tide. They are easily knocked off with a stone or levered free with a knife, but opinions are divided on whether they actually have a pleasant flavour.

Hot cross buns used to be sold by small boys who would walk through the town streets from the bakeries carrying warm buns in a basket and singing:

Hot cross buns
Hot cross buns
One a penny poker;
two a penny tongs
You’ve got the money,
I’ve got none
Buy my buns
and I’ll have some
One-a-penny
two-a-penny
Hot cross buns
Hot cross buns
All hot! All hot!

Easter dishes

Three traditional Jersey dishes are strongly linked to Easter - fiottes simnels and wonders.

The name fiotte means float, and these are balls of flour, sugar and eggs which are cooked floating on boiling milk. Simnels are a biscuit not exclusive to Jersey, but here the recipe is quite distinct from in England. Le sinmné first appears in 16th century records, and is similar to the cracknel la croquesïngole

A wonder is like a doughnut without jam and is traditionally called la mèrvelle

Sources

  • Lempriere, Raoul, Customs, Ceremonies and Tradtions of the Channel Islands, Hale
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