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Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Easter the American Way

As I recall Easter from my childhood, we each received one (or often several) hollow chocolate eggs, and then went to church, before a standard family Sunday lunch. The eggs were about the size of a closed fist, sometimes larger. Eggs the size of small hen's eggs, with a fondant or caramel filling, would be in the shops for weeks in advance, but they were just a tasty teaser, the big chocolate egg was the thing for Easter Sunday.

The best eggs came with a mug bearing the logo of the manufacturer - Cadbury's Creme Egg, Mars, Milky Way, Crunchie, whatever. The egg would last a day or two at best, but the mug could last a lifetime. When I started thinning down my house contents I dug out several such mugs which I still had stored in the attic, and took them to my office where they are still being used.

As my brothers and I grew up and moved out, we would still return to our parents' home for a family lunch on Easter Sunday, and my mother would still give us each a chocolate egg, or another chocolate item like a bunny, or one year a tractor.

This year is my first experience of Easter in the USA, and also of working in a retail store that is trying to push out as much product as possible. Hollow chocolate eggs barely seem to exist, the only style I saw was a small one with VeggieTales characters printed on the foil wrap. Chocolate bunnies, flat and solid or three dimensional and hollow, are much more common. Easter Baskets are very popular, either empty for use by children in Easter Egg hunts, or to fill with your own choice of treats, or ready made with toys and candy for children. One or two companies make chocolate crosses, or stick some biblical quotes on a regular box of their candy. Many companies do nothing at all to the candy itself, and just put some bunny or egg print on the plastic bag to indicate that you should buy this at Easter.
Many manufacturers make tiny eggs the size of marbles in their particular style, and I did invest in a few of these.

The Easter Egg hunt is popular in the US, but as I was working Sunday and it was pouring with rain, I don't know how many hunts actually took place here in Eugene. You can buy hollow plastic eggs in various colors (including camoflage patterns) and fill these with your choice of candy, "hide" them in full view, usually outside in the garden or in a park, and let a bunch of kids go find them. We used to do this at our office in London for children of the staff, and one particularly outgoing employee dressed up as a rabbit or chicken to distribute the eggs.

The US does not recognise Good Friday or Easter Monday as public holidays, so for most people it's just a weekend with a special church service on the Sunday and a lot of kids overdosing on candy. For me it meant several days trying to cram candy onto the seasonal shelves, dodging shopping carts, and on Easter Sunday itself, explaining (politely) that the reason we didn't have a particular candy a customer was looking for at three in the afternoon was that we had sold out, and that it would be a good idea to buy the candy earlier next year.


  1. I did the same thing for my kids that my parents did for me when I was growing up: Fill a small basket with an assortment--a handful of jelly beans, a small toy, a few small chocolate foil-wrapped eggs, and usually one larger chocolate bunny or similar, and hide it somewhere in the house for each kid. Everyone knew which basket was hers, and usually would discover someone else's while looking, thus being able to help a younger sib later, if needed. After a couple years I got very tired of Easter "grass" which got everywhere, and I started lining the baskets with colorful bandannas.

  2. Emm, I have already outlawed Easter Grass in our house - aside from being annoying, it's hazardous for dopey cats.