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The Pace Egg Plays are an Easter tradition in rural English culture in the tradition of the medieval mystery plays. The tradition was once widespread throughout England, but is now only practised in a few areas, particularly Lancashire and West Yorkshire.
The name pace is derived from Latin pascha ('Easter') (c.f. the adjective paschal). The drama takes the form of mock combat between the hero and villain, in which the hero is killed and brought back to life, often by a quack doctor. In some the plays the figure of St George smites all challengers, and the fool, Toss Pot, rejoices.
Many Pace Egg plays died out after the Great War, when many of the men who took part in them were killed in action. In Middleton, North Manchester, Pace Egging (performing the Pace Egg Play) was revived in 1967. The Bury Pace Eggers were revived in 1970, and still perform in pubs and squares around the town and surrounding villages in the week before Easter.
Midgley Pace Egg was performed by children from the village's primary school, but in recent decades older children from the nearby Calder High School took over. That school is no longer interested in such things, but ex-pupils maintain the tradition, performing in the original Midgley, West Yorkshire location as well as at the tourist magnet, Heptonstall.
The plays enjoyed a renaissance in Heptonstall, West Yorkshire in recent decades. The origins are uncertain, but appear to be based on the Midgley tradition. Some versions of the plays have undoubtedly been performed over many hundreds of years. It has become an established Good Friday tradition, and hundreds come to Weavers Square to watch.
- "Middleton Pace Eggers celebrate 50 years". Rochdale Online. 29 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
- "Bury Times, 3 April, 2009". Retrieved 28 February 2011.
- "Bury Pace-Eggers". Bury Pace-Eggers. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
- "Heptonstall's egg-stravaganza!". BBC. 28 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
- "Good Friday Heptonstall Pace Egg Plays". Visit Calderdale. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
- Cass, E. The Pace-Egg Plays of the Calder Valley, London: FLS Books, 2004.
- Cass, E. The Lancashire Pace-Egg Play, A Social History, London: FLS Books, 2001.
- Jennings, B. Pennine Valley: History of Upper Calderdale, Dalesman Publishing Co Ltd, 1992.
- Midgley Village: The pace egg play
- Calderdale Council: The pace egg play
- Pamphlet: The PACE-EGG, The Midgley Version
- Digital Tradition: The pace-egging song
- Heptonstall Pace Egg 2015, with explanations of the play's origins by the pace-eggers