Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Easter


To be honest, I don't really bother much about Easter. Its the 2nd chocolate holiday of the year (first obviously being Valentines). I hate marzipan so simnel cake is out. I hate hot cross buns. I love chocolate, but can eat it any day of the week any week of the year.  Easter is now up there with Christmas and Halloween as another commercial extravaganza. Ba humbug.
As a kid, we had the Easter Bunny who delivered an egg - 1 egg per child. Just 1. Perfectly normal, acceptable, suitable and all that was necessary. We also got an egg from a neighbour and a couple of relatives. That was it. Easter was for chocolate eggs.  I remember one Easter being sooooo excited to discover that the Bunny had delivered a Creme Egg Easter Egg and was devastated to discover that it was hollow inside, bar the 3 ordinary Creme Eggs within - I had full expectations of this monsterous egg being filled with fondant. Anyway, I digress. There were no cash alternatives to a chocolate egg. No clothing vouchers or record tokens (for the older child who was too cool for chocolate eggs - who in their right mind thinks they are too cool for chocolate? These people need to have a quiet word with themselves! I am showing my age here with the mention of a record token...).  No toy substitutes. No new outfit. You got chocolate or nothing. Like it or lump it. I liked it thank you very much.
It was while I was at work last Sunday that the sheer ugliness of holiday hit me.  I was scanning obscene amounts of moneys worth of chocolate.  Many a customer spending in excess of £50. On CHOCOLATE. One customer actually spent £73.98 on Easter eggs and the little chocolate rabbits (you know, the really sickly chocolate ones wrapped in gold at at about a fiver for a mini rabbit).  I expect to get my weekly messages to feed us for that or preferably less! And it's not just eggs, no no, there are also the vouchers or clothes or other guff. When did this happen???
As I said, I don't really bother much. I have bought an egg for both my nephews (which my sister will probably eat, as I did with the eggs Kiddo received for his first 3 Easters, but shhhh!) and a Thornton's egg for Kiddo with his name on it. And that's about as Easter-y as I get.  The past 2 years, my parents have taken Kiddo to roll his egg on Easter Sunday to either the Cup and Saucer (which sits in the shadows of Stirling Castle) or to the small grassy 'hill' at the foot of the Wallace Monument in Causewayhead, which is handily situated right beside a fantastic ice-cream shop. Coincidence? He rolled a hard boiled one the first year and his chocolate one last year (which my Dad also had a shot at rolling, and rolled it too hard causing it to break, so they had to just eat it!).  It's becoming a little family tradition, one I hope continues, as Kiddo loves it.  I do believe my Mum used to roll her eggs on Easter with her family at the Cup and Saucer, but as kids, never did my sister or I roll any eggs of any sort down any bloody hill!  There is a certain comfort in traditions, especially if they are personal to your own family.  I know of a family who have a competition every year decorating hard boiled eggs and the winning family gets the coveted trophy. I have loved seeing  the photos on Facebook each year. The themes gone for and the results have been sp-egg-tacular! * I'll get my coat...*
So the other day when my Mum informed me that Kiddo had asked her who the Easter Bunny was I thought I'd better get him caught up on all things Easter. Our conversation went like this:
(Disclaimer : I am not Christian, and I am explaining my understanding of Easter to a 5 year old!)
Me : What do you know about Easter?
Kiddo : Its when you get lots of chocolate
M : Ok, do you know who the Easter Bunny is?
K : Ehm, not really.
M : Right. The Easter Bunny is a special rabbit, or maybe he is a hare, I'm not sure, who delivers a chocolate egg to children on Easter Sunday. Just like Santa does at Christmas.  You know, when I was about 5, I was sure I saw the bunny when he came to my house.  I remember waking up just in time to see the tops of his long ears disappearing down the stairs. (True story! When I was about  5, my bed faced the door and the top of the landing. I remember thinking that I saw the bunny ears. On reflection some 30 odd years later I realise that it was my hazy just awoken state and the corner of the banister coming into focus. But still, it's a good wee story for Kiddo.  Another true story is about the time I saw the tooth fairy - I'll save that one for when Kiddo gets his first visit...ooh...suspense!)
K : Really? Cool! Why does a rabbit bring me eggs?
M : Well! Let me tell you (delightfully warming up to my theme). A long long time ago,  people didn't have calenders and clocks for telling the time, they used the moon and sun. They could tell the time of day by where the sun was in the sky, where they were in the 'month' by the shape of the moon and the full moon, and the 'year' by the seasons. Have you heard me mention the Equinox?
K : Uh-huh
M : The Equinox is a time that the day and night are the same length. It's dark for the same amount of time that it is light, and then the days get longer as we move towards summer. In these old days, people celebrated the Equinox as the start of spring.  It was a time when lots of animals had their babies - birds laid eggs and the rabbits and hares had lots and lots of baby bunnies.
K : Hmmm, did they have chocolate eggs then too?
M : No, we h...
K : Bo-rrrinnngggg!
M : Do you want to know the story or not?
K: (Sighs) okayyy
M : We have chocolate eggs now to represent all the birds laying their eggs and new chick hatching. Some people also boil real eggs and paint them bright colours and fancy designs. We can do that if you want?
K  : Nah, maybe another day
M : Fine.  The Bunny is actually believed to have come from Germany a few hundred years ago.  Many people celebrate this time of year still, but most people don't celebrate on the Equinox, they celebrate on Easter. Which has possibly evolved from Eostre or Ostara.
K : How?
M : There is another story around Easter. It was called Eostre/Ostara but was changed when the country was Christianised - but that is a story for another time. The Easter story goes, now I'm remembering this from my school days, so bear with me, there was a man, called Jesus. He was a pretty special guy and plenty people liked him, but others didn't.
K : Why?
M : Ehm, not quite sure. Anyway, he sadly died. But before he did, the people that didn't like him were really mean, and stuck him up on a cross and carried him through town.  As I said, he died, and  his body was put in a cave.
K : Did he turn into a skeleton and paleontologists found him?
M : No, not quite
K : Ugh! Did the people have chocolate?
M : No! Can I continue?
K : (nods)
M : Right, well, apparently, there was a miracle and...
K : Whats a miracle?
M : It's a bit like magic, but not quite
K :  Oooh
M : And Jesus came back to life, and managed to roll the stone away from the front of the cave. It's called the resurrection. It's the reason that eggs are rolled down hills on Easter Sunday - it's just like the rolling of the stone. And before you ask, no the stone was not made of chocolate!
K : When's Easter again?
M : Sunday
K : Will I get my chocolate egg then?
M : I suppose so.

Suffice to say, Kiddo isn't really all that bothered about Easter either, other than getting a 'healthy dose' of chocolate.
I don't do anything special for Easter, never really have and doubt we ever will. I prefer to acknowledge the Equinox and what meaning it holds. But hey, each to their own. I find it interesting though when folks comment on the changing date of Easter each year and how it is either "early this year" or "late" - it is the same as it has been since Easter was invented as a date to celebrate : The first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring/Vernal Equinox. This year's first full moon since the Equinox (which fell on 20th March) is on Saturday 4th April.

There are so many fun crafts that this holiday/celebration/time of year lends itself too. Pinterest is loaded with suggestions that I'm keen to try.  I used to like making the bonnets when in primary school (although am not entirely sure of their significance), but as always, as soon as I try to engage Kiddo in anything craft related, start suggesting we get painting or gluing, he switches off.  Crafting is really not his bag - does anyone want to lend me their child to play at making baskets, painting eggs or sewing cotton stuffed animals?  I have got him into making chocolate cornflake nests and fill them with mini eggs - photos will follow once he actually makes them!

How ever you are spending the weekend,, be it on an egg hunt or family competition, or at church, I hope you have a wonderful time.

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