Why do we eat chocolate on Easter? (And other fun Easter celebrations you might not know)
Easter marks the start of Spring, and the festival is filled with plenty of ancient traditions. From January onwards, you’ll probably have seen the first signs of Easter sneaking onto supermarket shelves. Colourful Arrays of Foiled Easter Eggs and cute bunnies add a little ray of sunshine in the gloomy winter months, but why do we eat chocolate at Easter? And who is the Easter bunny?
Marking the end of Lent, Easter is the culmination of six weeks observed by Christians. Traditionally Lent was six weeks of abstention from all animal products, including dairy and eggs. In modern times, people have taken Lent upon themselves and abstained from eating sweets and chocolates over the six weeks, making this an accessible way for all ages to be involved in Lent. Some people opt for another food or food group that is meaningful to them instead of Lent.
Many years ago, when people observed Lent by giving up animal products, their chickens would continue to lay eggs during that time, and because eggs were not consumed during Lent, people would decorate the eggs and keep them for Easter, giving way to the tradition for elaborate egg designs and egg decorating as a part of Easter traditions.
Eggs have always been an essential part of the Easter celebrations (the chocolate and chicken laid variety). For poorer people, during the time of lent, abstaining from egg consumption was very difficult, so come Easter, there was much merriment as Lent came to an end. Eggs were an essential gift over this time and were given to the church as offerings on Good Friday and often to the Lord of Manor at Easter. But the joy isn’t just in the giving and receiving of eggs. The Easter egg hunt has become a key fixture for many who celebrate. But where does the tradition of Easter egg hunts come from?
This fun idea comes from Germany and harks back to the late 16th Century. A man called Martin Luther, a Protestant Reformer, organised an egg hunt for his congregation members to mark the end of Lent. It was tradition for the men to hide the eggs and the women and children to find them as it was the women who discovered Jesus’ empty tomb at the time of the resurrection. And it seems that the Germans were big on creating.
Easter traditions, with the creation of the Easter bunny, or the Easter Hare as he is originally thought of, also originating in Germany in 1682. Again, these were all symbols of fertility and the start of Spring. But how did the tradition of the Easter egg hunt spread across Europe? Well we can’t say for sure, but it seems Queen Victoria was a big fan of the activity. Referencing it in her journals in the late 1800s. With a German-born mother, the Duchess of Kent, it is likely that Queen Victoria’s mother brought this tradition with her. With Queen Victoria noting that ‘Mama did some pretty painted & ornamented eggs, & we looked for them’. in her journal in 1833, when she was 14 years old. Egg decorating and hunting has continued to be a tradition throughout Europe and something much loved in the UK too. But who created the chocolate Easter egg? This delightful spring treat appeared in the early 19th century, with France and Germany leading the way. But it was Fry’s in 1873 who made the first UK chocolate Easter egg and it’s fair to say, we’ve never looked back.
Nowadays, there are many chocolate Easter eggs available with plenty of fillings or hollow, but even when purchasing your favourite brand, you might notice that the chocolate doesn’t taste entirely the same. This is because for the most part, the chocolate used has to be thinner to create a moulded egg shape, the finer layer of chocolate is utterly delicious and something to savour in every bite.
Chocolate eggs aren't the only Easter delicacy, however. Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Easter Friday as another signifier that the period of Lent is at an end. The cross on top of the bun is thought to represent the crucifixion of Jesus. While some believe that the spice blend used in the bun encapsulates Jesus' embalming after the crucifixion. The exact date that hot cross buns entered as an Easter tradition is highly disputed. But they remain a popular festive treat (and we aren't surprised).
Easter traditions from around the world
Easter is a religious festival, but the celebrations for this important day are marked differently worldwide.
1. the UK
Aside from Church services, Easter in the UK is a beautiful holiday where families can get together to create memories. Traditional foods include Easter eggs, hot cross buns and a traditional Sunday roast lamb to mark the start of spring. Other traditions involve decorating eggs, Easter egg hunts, bonnet decorating and parades, and giving flowers such as daffodils, marking the beginning of a new season.
2. Haux, France
This is a beautiful tradition (sorry, we couldn’t help it); using over 4,500 eggs, the residents of Haux in France celebrate Easter by making a giant omelette on Easter Monday that serves around 1000 people.
You might be forgiven for thinking that Sweden’s Easter traditions are reminiscent of Halloween. Children dress up in old clothes and as witches and exchange their artwork for candy.
4. Northwestern Europe
While the tradition of lighting bonfires started as a symbolic way of shooing away the winter, in Northwestern Europe, the Easter bonfire lighting is now a way of bringing people together.
Good Friday for those in Bermuda begins with a kite festival. The weekend is also packed with delicious food, including hot cross buns and salt fish. Sunrise services on Easter Sunday take place across Bermuda on beaches, beautiful.
According to Conde Nast Traveller, in Antigua, the streets are covered in brightly coloured carpets that artists specially create. The carpets are made from coloured sawdust, fruits, vegetables and flowers and depict religion and Guatemalan history of Mayan traditions.
According to Visit Norway, Easter has become popular for people to ski and read crime novels. The slightly quirky tradition is thought to have begun in 1923 when a publisher used Easter as the time to promote a crime novel by running it on the front of newspapers. It was so realistic that people didn’t know if it was true or not, and the tradition began.
The Easter Gift Guide
Milk Chocolate Speckled Eggs
An Easter classic, our Milk Chocolate Speckled Eggs coated in a crispy pastel shell won’t stick around for long. Eat them on their own or use them to decorate Easter cakes and desserts.
Milk Chocolate Praline Eggs
Our sumptuous Milk Chocolate Praline Eggs come wrapped in rainbow-hued foil for that extra luxury touch. Scatter these hazelnut praline-filled treats for a decadent addition to your Easter egg hunt.
These colourful candies are guaranteed to brighten your tabletop this Easter. Our Pastel Hued Sugared Almonds are the perfect crunchy and sweet snack. They are available in three different gift sizes and make the perfect hostess present.
Our excellent equivalent to chocolate this Easter comes in the form of these moreish Jelly Fried Egg Sweets. They are available to purchase in a stylish gift tin or Easter-ready egg-shaped container – perfect for those planning a luxury Easter egg hunt in the garden (*not suitable for vegetarians).
Vegan Jelly Carrots
Looking for a Vegan Easter Gift? Our juicy vegan carrot jellies are a delicious alternative to chocolate this Easter. They’re so good that even chocolate lovers won’t be able to resist.