Easter Monday, another UK Public Holiday, has little religious significance but is the occasion for numerous secular customs.
Egg rolling is very popular in England and the rest of the UK and is an Easter Monday sport. Hard-boiled eggs are rolled down a hill. Customs differ from place to place. The winner's egg may be the one that rolls the farthest, survives the most rolls, or is rolled between two pegs.
At Biddenden in Kent, the Biddenden Dole, in the form of bread, cheese, tea (formerly beer) and cake is distributed. The cake bears an image of two women said to be the founders of this charity, a pair of Siamese twins who were born in 1100 and died within a few hours of each other at the age of 34.
At Hallaton in Leicestershire, the Hare Pie Scramble and Bottle Kicking, an unruly rugby game between the village of Hallaton and Medbourne, takes place every Easter Monday. Hallaton is picturesque village with lots of old thatched cottages and set in beautiful countryside.
Small wooden barrels filled with ale are used as rugby balls in the no-holds barrel contest, the object of which is to get each of the three casks to a touchline in either village.
One of the barrels is brightly painted in red, white and blue.
The history behind the Hare Pie Scrambe and Bottle Kicking
The custom dates back to 1770, the Rector of Hallaton was allotted a piece of land on condition that he provided two hare pies, two dozen loaves of bread and a quantity of ale, which has to be scrambled for in public.
On Easter Monday a large hare pie is paraded in a procession through Hallaton Village from the Fox Inn to St. Michael’s Church. The procession is led by a man wearing a green robe who carries a pole topped by a metal hare, and a woman in old fashioned costume carrying a basket of penny loaves. Two young women follow them, carrying a large hare pie, followed by three men in football shirts carrying three bottles above their heads, followed by a band with bagpipes and drums.
At the gates of the parish church, slices are cut up, blessed by the rector and pieces thrown into the crowd. The proecession then leads to the cross where the penny loaves are broken up and thrown into the crowd.
The procession finally ends on a hill overlooking the village. There follows a football game, played across country with the bottles (barrels) instead of a ball.
Two teams fight over three small beer barrels, in an attempt to get each barrel across the stream in their village by any means possible. The two teams are the Hallaton team, made up exclusively of villagers, and the Medbourne team, open to anyone.
The Hallaton side try to get the barrels down the hill and over the stream behind the Bewick Arms, whilst the Medbourne team try to get the barrels over the fields for a mile or so towards their village.
The game is played as a best of three with one barrel in playat a time. It is a very tough contest that can last for hours, crossing numerous hedges, lanes, ditches and even barbed wire to reach their touchlines.
On Easter Monday, The World Coal Carrying Championship takes place in the village of Gawthorpe, in Yorkshire. Contestants run for one mile, carrying a 50kg bag of coal.
History behind the custom
The contest dates from an incident at the Beehive Inn in 1963, when Lewis Hartley said to Reggie Sedgewick: "Ba gum, lad, tha' looks buggered!" to which an affronted Mr Sedgewick riposted: "Let's 'ave a coil race from Barracks t' Maypole." And they did.
London Harness Horse Parade- Easter Monday
South of England showground, Ardingly, West Sussex.
The first parade occurred in 1885 to encourage drivers to take a humane view of their horses. Today a huge variety of vehicles can be seen in action from rarely used horse drawn fire engines to the Harrods delivery ‘unicorn’ which is used every day.
Click here to see other rather unsual customs in the UK