Marking Good Friday in South Shields in years gone by

Youngsters saying prayers in West Park, South Shields.
Youngsters saying prayers in West Park, South Shields.

It must have been a chilly day when the four youngsters pictured took part in a Good Friday service back in April, 1968.

For the little ones are well wrapped up against the cold.

Looking at the photo, which was taken in the West Park, South Shields, the four children were caught in a moment of prayer. Could it be that two of the girls, in the light-coloured woollen coats, buttoned snuggly to the collar, and wearing what appear to be hand-knitted hats, are sisters or even twins?

As well as being smartly turned-out, they are duly reflective at such a solemn occasion.

Do you recognise any of the little ones or perhaps remember the outdoor service? If so, please get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

As well as being one, if not the, most important dates in the Christian calendar (celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary around 30 AD), Easter is, of course, associated with many traditions that survive today.

I wonder if the children in our photo would have enjoyed a chocolate Easter egg or two during the Easter weekend?

Apparently chocolate Easter eggs were first manufactured by Fry’s in 1873.

Back in the 1960s the choice of shop-bought chocolate eggs was somewhat limited compared to today’s comprehensive selection of seasonal confectionary.

In those days, the choice was pretty much between a Cadbury’s Buttons egg or a Rowntrees’ Smarties egg (I seem to recall Mars eggs coming along a little later).

Although I much preferred the Buttons to the Smarties, my favourite egg shell was the Rowntrees variety – the chocolate casing was so much thicker than its Cadbury’s counterpart.

Apart from the popular and best-selling chocolate eggs, there were other more expensive examples which always seemed to be perched on the highest shelves in the sweet shop, well out of reach of grubby little fingers.

If memory serves me right, these would be Black Magic or Quality Street, packaged to attract the eye of the older, more affluent buyer.

Over the years, more and more chocolate bars morphed into Easter eggs. What were your favourites?

Apart from the sweet treats, youngsters had, and still do, have pace (or paste eggs, as we tend to say in these parts) to paint, jarp and ultimately eaten.

The name pace is believed to derive from either the Latin pascha or the French word for Easter, being Pâques.

As well as dyeing eggs, mainly using tea, onion skins and beetroot, eggs were also painted and popped into egg cups to be proudly displayed.

Those used for jarping (a contest involving two eggs being bashed together) or egg rolling (were they are bounced down a hill, with the winner being the owner of the egg which goes the furthest and has the least cracks or breaks in it) would be good for nothing but scrambled eggs!

What egg-based traditions did you used to enjoy when you were a child?

These days, children go on Easter egg hunts (courtesy of the generous and chocolate-laden Easter bunny).

Do you remember doing anything similar in years gone by?

Easter is a deeply religious and important time for many. It is also a time for families to enjoy some time together.

We have long associated Christmas with turkey dinners and socialising, and many families will be doing just that this coming Easter time.

How have your Easter holidays changed over the years?

Do you prefer the past or the present?

Do you think it has become too commercialised, with its origins being lost on successive generations?

As ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and any other subjects you’d like to raise.