Happy Easter to you all! Though I must admit that I’m not a fan of Easter being this early – I’ve hardly warmed up! Nor am I a huge fan of Easter in general – I’m not miserable, just self employed!
Easter and the associated Bank holidays can fall anytime between March 22 and April 25 and is usually celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon on or after 21 March, because it is based on the lunar calendar.
Apparently the whole Easter egg tradition developed from the egg being seen as a symbol of Spring, a celebration of the rebirth and reinvigoration after the harshness of winter. Chocolate eggs are a relatively new phenomenon, originating in France and Germany in the 19th century and as chocolate production became more sophisticated, the Easter festival, like Christmas, became more marketable. And it could get even bigger if campaigners get their way and Easter becomes a fixed date in the calendar.
The first chocolate egg in the UK was produced in 1873 by Fry’s of Bristol and it is thought that every child in the UK receives an average of 8.8 Easter eggs every year – double their recommended calorie intake for a whole week.
We can also thank the Germans for the Easter bunny. Originally an ‘Easter hare’, a buck-toothed bringer of chocolate to the kids that have behaved themselves was first mentioned in German literature in 1682. The tradition stuck, and has led to the Easter bunnies you see on the shelves today as well as the expectation for a delivery of Easter eggs on the day. And apparently when tucking into a chocolate bunny rabbit, 76 per cent of people bite the ears off first.
Cadbury are well known for their Crème Egg slogan, ‘How do you eat yours?” and it seems that the methods get madder each year. Now there are numerous recipes on the Internet that include crème eggs … crème egg toasties, crème egg pizza and even battered crème eggs.
So if you enjoy Easter eggs, don’t forget to get out in the garden this bank Holiday weekend to work off some of those eggs-tra calories!
And gorging on chocolate eggs is actually (and shamefully) a contributing factor to Easter weekend being a busy time at accident and emergency hospital departments.
A NHS FoundationTrust recently issued a Facebook post asking over eaters to seek help elsewhere after the additional pressure put on its staff last year. Traditionally it is enthusiastic gardeners and DIY-ers that make it the busiest weekend of the year at emergency departments, with accidents ranging from cuts and grazes, to bad backs and broken bones (often ladder falls), so do please take care and take your time if you are planning a ‘home-working’ weekend – and exercise some self restraint with your Easter eggs.
Day of Rest
And for those planning to visit DIY stores and Garden Centres over the holiday weekend, don’t forget that trading laws mean larger nurseries and other shops of more than 3,000 sq ft (280 sq m) are forced to close on Easter Sunday (and Christmas Day).
The Horticultural Trades Association considers the rules outdated and are annoyed that garden centres can miss out on takings of in access of £5,000 by staying shut for the Easter Sunday. The HTA point out that that equates to a potential economic boost to the country of up to £75m.
Over the years various garden centre chains have tried to work around the law by opening for longer on Good Friday and Easter Monday and even by opening their doors and inviting customers in ‘to browse’, although they can’t buy anything. The chief executive of the Garden Centre Group, said, “You can sell porn but not plants on Easter Sunday, it’s ridiculously outdated.”
Tomorrow is April Fool’s Day and I have heard of some great gardening April Fool jokes over the years. Last year seed company Thompson and Morgan put out a convincing press release boasting the launch of their Gin and Tonic Tree, and of course there was the famous Spaghetti Tree hoax, a report broadcast on April Fools’ Day 1957 by the BBC current-affairs programme Panorama, purportedly showing a family in southern Switzerland harvesting spaghetti from the family “spaghetti tree”.
It’s easy to forget that at the time spaghetti was relatively little known in the UK and consequently a number of viewers afterwards contacted the BBC for advice on growing their own spaghetti trees. Decades this broadcast is still considered to be the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled off.
But my favourite was one of the boys in work giving his girlfriend a small envelope of Honey Loops and telling her they were the seeds of a do-nut tree. And yup, she planted them; what a do-nut!