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The Stations of the SunA History of the Ritual Year in Britain$
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Ronald Hutton

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205708

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205708.001.0001

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The Easter Holidays

The Easter Holidays

(p.204) 20 The Easter Holidays
The Stations of the Sun

Ronald Hutton

Oxford University Press

Alfred the Great decreed a cessation of any need to labour in the fortnight on either side of Easter. By the thirteenth century, the period of rest from labour had been curtailed to remove the first part of Holy Week, but extended at the other (festive) end to include the second Monday and Tuesday after Easter. This latter period was known as the Hock or Hoke Days, or Hocktide, the derivation of which is now completely mysterious. This span of leisure remained until the Reformation of Edward VI, one component of which was a severe reduction in what the reformers regarded as an excessive number of holy days. An act of Parliament in 1552 restricted the period of recreation after Easter to the Monday and Tuesday immediately following, and it was generally observed as such until the institution of bank holidays in the late nineteenth century cut it back to the Monday alone.

Keywords:   Alfred the Great, labour, Easter, Holy Week, Hoke Days, Hocktide, leisure, Reformation, Edward VI, Parliament

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