EASTER is upon us on. This year, it will coincide with the clocks going forward for an hour.

This is officially British Summer Time, more widely known as ‘Daylight Saving Time’. Not all clocks across the world behave like this, and not all clocks skipping an hour to welcome the Spring leap forward at the same time.

In North America, people have already been ‘saving daylight’ since March 10.

When first introduced in North America, a wise Native American Chief is said to have remarked: “Only the White Man would believe you could cut a foot off the top of the blanket, sew it onto the bottom of the blanket, and be left with a longer blanket."

If you live in rural Fermanagh or Tyrone and work on the land all the hours of daylight (and dry weather) God sends, you might agree with him.

He was right, of course. We still have exactly the same amount of daylight each day, but we have longer, light evenings.

Your view on the matter might depend on where you live and how you earn your living, or whether you are a morning lark or a night owl.

Although the idea had been around for some time, the introduction of daylight savings was a side effect of efficiency measures during the 1914-1918 War, and was first introduced in Germany and its allies in 1916, and followed by the opposing allies of Europe and Britain.

What was a war-time measure introduced more than a hundred years ago to save costs and maximise working hours doing still with us as part of our ‘culture and heritage’ today, and we simply accept it as the way we do things? We are a ritualistic species, are we not?

The moral of the story is as follows.

There is a lot to be said for questioning the how, when and why things came to be, and on continuing as they are. If nothing else, it encourages the mind to remain open to the possibility of them not always staying that way without anyone, of necessity, coming to any real harm.


EASTER was a ritual in our house in what my grandchildren call ‘the olden days’.

The Easter Bunny had not reached these shores, or if it had, it hadn’t crossed the Bann River.

Chocolate was not the order of the day either. Wartime rationing of chocolate only ended in 1953, and it remained a luxury for most of the 1950s.

Easter was preceded by the ritual of Lent – 40 days with no ha’penny chews, no gobstoppers, no four-a-penny ‘blackjacks’ or ‘banana splits’, and not even the whiff of a midget gem, and for added character-building, we also went without HP or tomato sauce!

My mother probably saved a quiet fortune on that one.

Lent ended with Midnight Mass, which required fasting. We walked home from the chapel, munching or chewing on one chosen sugary joy from the Lenten hoard of accumulated goodies.

We ate Easter breakfast at 2am in the morning. On Easter Sunday afternoon, children repaired to one of several Easter Huts under construction in the marshy ‘humps’ behind the estate, and finished the job, including gathering wood for the fire.

On Easter Monday, we boiled eggs hard as hickory, experimenting with the colour various bits of twigs and greenery might add to the shells, before competing in rolling and throwing said eggs until the shells were in smithereens, and then we ate the smoky, coloured eggs, and an odd bit of eggshell!

Modern chocolate eggs have their place, but aren’t half the craic the real thing provided in ‘the olden days’.

Perhaps germs, health and safety regulations hadn’t yet been invented.


THE Catholic Easter ceremony is, I believe, similar to that of the Anglican Church, and possibly the Methodists, but might cause a God-fearing Wesleyan or Calvinist to recoil in horror.

It was my absolute favourite of all Church shenanigans.

It started at midnight in the chapel, in darkness. We held our Easter candles to the ready.

There was a sense of theatre and excitement about the pending ritual.

From the back of the church, the procession of priest and attendants would come in solemn chant of ‘Lumeni Christi’ as the candle at the end of each pew was lit from the Paschal candle carried by the priest.

Each candle along each pew was lit, one from the other, until the church was bathed in candlelight, and the main actors reached the front of the church.

Next came the blessings of the various waters and oils that would be used throughout the year for baptisms, confirmation and anointing the dead.

Finally, the dressing of the celebrant in holy ‘garments’ fit for celebrating the ‘Resurrection of the Son of God’.

Throughout, the heady aroma of burning incense accompanied a steady stream of rhythmic invocation and responses from the congregation, seeking blessing, forgiveness, protection and intercession from harm, evil and temptation of all descriptions.

The invocation included prayers for “the souls of pagans, heathens and infidels”, despite the evidence of our participation that the ‘pagan’ wasn’t far down in any of us.

We renewed our faith and hope in the promise that by His death, naked and suffering shame on the cross, God proved He loved us.

He had risen from the dead, and would look after us. We belonged with Him and to Him, and through Him to each other.

I no longer retain what religions describe as ‘faith’ – a persistent belief in something despite the absence of any supporting evidence.

The rational evidence points to men inventing gods in their own image, likeness and interest to increase their own power, wealth and influence at the expense of others.

Despite all we see and read and know about the inequality, injustice and inhumanity of the world we live in, the evidence points to our shared capacity to make the whole world a better place for all humanity.

Easter is a good time for all Christians, ex-Christians and non-Christians alike to renew a commitment to humanity.

Protecting the human beings in Palestine is not a bad place to start.