Whilst Easter is now seen as a holiday to spend with family and eat copious amounts of chocolate, the period has significance in the county dating all the way back to the first century.

Dorset has a rich association with the time of year, and here are just a handful of references to the Christian holiday from the county’s past:

Dorset Echo: If we venture through history books to the first millennium, it is said that famous Saxon monarch Alfred the Great visited Sherborne Abbey on Good Friday in 865. The king had a strong connection to the abbey, as it is thought that Alfred was educated at the school, and his two brothers, Ethelbad and Ethelbert, were buried there.

A strong connection to the Christian tradition is seen through the food consumed across the county, from hot cross buns to Good Friday bread.

Dorset Echo: The Good Friday bread in Dorset was marked with a cross in the flour to keep it from being cursed, and was reportedly stored away all year to keep cattle from being sick.

Elsewhere in the county on the day, Wimborne, a market town, had traditionally held a Good Friday Market selling the highest quality corn, cattle, butcher’s meat and other necessities of life during the later 18th century . However in 1765, this was changed to be held the following week.

Cerne Abbas has an ancient association with folklore and tradition, with Easter being no different. It is said that if you look into the water of the well at St Augustine’s Well on Easter morning, it is said that you will see a reflection of all those fated to die in the coming year.

Another somewhat grim part of folklore from the county comes from the isle of Portland where it was believed that you would suffer from tooth ache all year if you cut your nails on Good Friday.

Dorset Echo: Dorchester-born author Thomas Hardy wrote a poem on the holiday, titled a drizzling Easter Morning. The poem draws on nineteenth century life in a religious context and how people during that period were facing their struggles with religion starting with the line ‘And he is risen? Well, be it so.’

What are your Easter traditions? Let us know in the comments below.