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A Victorian Easter

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

On Saturday April 23, visitors to the Clark House were greeted by Silas and Clara Clark, although the two were very busy preparing for Easter at their home, they invited people in to talk to them about their lives and the very important celebration of Easter.

As visitors stepped into the mansion the commented on how cool the air was, as it was a balmy 81 degrees on Saturday afternoon. Many a visitor asked whether the Clarks had air conditioning, to which Mr. Clark had to tell them that unfortunately they do not, but the house just hadn’t caught up with the outdoor temperatures, but after a few days of warm weather the house would get warmer, and at that time the family would need to open the windows to make the house comfortable.

The year is 1875, and the Clark family was preparing for the annual celebration of Easter. Easter comes as the first major holiday of the year and comes as everything is coming back to life after a long cold winter. The family has been cooped up all winter and it is nice for them to finally step outside into the warmer weather.

The Clarks are Presbyterian, which makes Easter very important. It was a celebration that did not last just a single day, but rather a whole season from the Resurrection on Easter Sunday through Pentecost. Easter begins with church service, and all the churches in town are decorated with flowers such as lilies, tulips, and daffodils. It is not only the churches, but the Clark’s home was also decorated with springtime flowers. In fact, Mr. and Mrs. Clark had just celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary and Mr. Clark purchased his wife some flowers, which she had displayed throughout the home. With springtime upon us, Mrs. Clark will likely begin working in her own flower gardens around her home, she informed visitors that she grows verbenas, and that one year her verbenas won first prize in the local fair.

But the churches and homes were not the only thing decorated, Easter is the time for everyone to show up their newest spring fashion, which showed off the latest patterns, colors, and styles. Mrs. Clark told visitors about how she has been busy over the winter making the children new clothes and a new dress for her and a suit for Silas.

One of the pre-Easter activities was making Easter Eggs. Like children today, the Clark children decorated eggs and also hunted eggs, although they used real eggs to hunt, usually hard-boiled eggs, but Mrs. Clark said they had to make sure they found all the eggs, otherwise you would definitely find them a few days later as they began to smell. The eggs would either be decorated after the eggs were blown out or merely leaving them hard-boiled. Dying eggs occurred much like it does today, although the Clarks did not have the “magical” tablets that are sold today, instead they used cranberries (red), beets (purple), oranges and lemon peels (orange and yellow), red cabbage (blue), and coffee or tea (brown).

Mrs. Clark would boil the water and then soak whatever items she wanted for the color, then add vinegar, let the mixture cool, strain, and then place the eggs in the respective dye. The children could even experiment by “double dipping” to make different colors such as green. On Easter, the eggs would be hidden outside for the children to collect.

Mrs. Clark prepared various foods for the Easter meal, which this year included ham and vegetables along with hot-cross buns. And for dessert was Easter candy, and Mr. Clark informed his guests that just this year John Cadbury came out with a new candy – the Cadbury crème egg. And all guests left with a special treat from Mr. and Mrs. Clark – a Cadbury egg – to wish them a Happy Easter.

Clark House tours occur once a month, if you are interested check out our events page to learn about the next tour.

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