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Audley End House and Gardens: English Heritage brings back 'Skipping Day' tradition for Easter weekend





English Heritage is reviving the all-but-lost tradition of 'Skipping Day' this Easter at a selection of its historic sites, including Audley End House and Gardens, near Saffron Walden.

At the height of its popularity, ‘Skipping Day’ would have seen crowds of people, old and young, take to the streets on Good Friday, often using a repurposed washing line in lieu of a rope, in a tradition that was believed to help the crops grow.

But a recent survey conducted by Censuswide revealed that nowadays, most people do not know that skipping was an Easter custom and have never heard of ‘Skipping Day’.

English Heritage is reviving Easter skipping day at Audley End House and Gardens this Easter weekend (63428748)
English Heritage is reviving Easter skipping day at Audley End House and Gardens this Easter weekend (63428748)

English Heritage senior historian Amy Boyington said: “During the 20th century, whole families would try to skip all day on Good Friday, eating hot cross buns to keep them going. They believed skipping would bring good luck and guarantee good harvests or catches of fish in the coming year.

“We would love to hear from anyone who remembers – or has a relative who remembers – skipping on Good Friday. The rhymes that would have undoubtedly accompanied these Easter games are largely forgotten too, which is such a shame as oral tradition is so important in our understanding of social history.”

Today, the most popular modern Easter tradition is the egg hunt, with around 75% of parents surveyed saying that their children will hunt for eggs this year. Only around 1 in 10 parents with children aged 5-11 said that their kids would play skipping games, although 85% of those surveyed thought it would be fun to revive the tradition of an Easter skipping day.

English Heritage is reviving Easter skipping day at Audley End House and Gardens this Easter weekend (63428751)
English Heritage is reviving Easter skipping day at Audley End House and Gardens this Easter weekend (63428751)

Most skipping games involve three or more people, two swinging a long rope while the third person skips, or two people jump together. In the more difficult game, two ropes are swung at the same time, one following the other, so the skippers must jump twice as fast.

The rhymes recited by players clearly followed current affairs of the time. In the 1940s, they mentioned the war or rationing; during the 1960s, new inventions like bubble cars, ‘Sputnik’ satellites or television.

Over the Easter weekend (April 7-10), English Heritage’s Easter Escapades will see historical performers compete against each other in traditional Easter-themed games. At Audley End there will be plenty of opportunities for families to get involved too. For more details visit www.english-heritage.org.uk.



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