If you, like us, work in a multicultural office with people from different parts of the world, you’ve no doubt had some conversations that involve "you eat what?" "You celebrate how?" Huh, you learn something new every day.
For instance, for those who’ve never spent an Easter in North America, we bring you ‘peeps’.
Peeps are all sugar, all good times every Easter for the members of the United States. These popular, chick-shaped candies are made of marshmallow then dipped in sugar and they’ve been around for 60 years.
And there’s more...
‘Paskha’ means ‘Easter’ in Russian and it’s also the name of the cream cheese pyramid-shaped dessert is served at Easter in Russia. The elaborate sculpture is usually stamped with the letters ‘XB’, which stand for ‘Christ has risen’ in Cyrillic script.
Hot Cross Buns (originally from the UK)
Traditionally eaten in the UK during Easter time, the tradition also migrated to Australia. These sweet bread buns are flecked with currants or raisins and have a distinct cross along the top (otherwise it’s just a fruit bun). Some say the tradition was started by the Anglo-Saxons, who crossed the buns to honour the four quarters of the moon. Now the cross, for many, symbolises Jesus' crucifixion. These days, the buns also come in a host of fancy flavours, from choc-chip to Heston Blumenthal’s Earl Grey and Mandarin.
Paçoca de Amendoim (Brazil)
Made from peanuts, sugar and cassava flour, this Brazilian treat is a traditional sweet served during the Easter festival in Brazil.
Mexico loves spice, and their traditional Easter bread pudding, capirotada, is no different. Filled with raisins, cinnamon, cloves and cheese, each ingredient is said to be a reminder of the suffering of Christ: the cloves being the nails on the cross, the cinnamon sticks the wooden cross and the bread the body of Christ.
A delicious brioche-like bread, Tsoureki is flavoured with the essence of the seed of wild cherries and is often decorated with hard-boiled eggs. Unusually the eggs are dyed red to symbolise the blood of Christ.
Colomba di Pasqua (Italy)
In Italy, it’s all about the bread. Naturally. The Italian’s treat of choice for Easter time is the Colomba di Pasqua yeast bread. It is shaped like a dove (colomba in Italian) to symbolise peace and resurrection. A rich buttery bread filled with raisins and candied orange peel, the colomba is topped with a baked-on almond icing that gives it a sweet, crisp crust.
Easter Bilby (Australia)
A shout-out to Australia’s endangered native marsupial, the bilby, the Easter Bilby was born to raise money and increase awareness for the endangered species. Aussie wanting to support conservation efforts should keep an eye out for Pink Lady and Haigh’s chocolate Bilbies as these companies donate to the cause. Though Cadbury produces chocolate Bilbies, it does not donate or support any bilby conservation projects.
So, how did choccy eggs and Easter bunnies come into vogue?
IBISWorld predicts across the four-day Easter break, Australians will spend more than $3 billion on Easter chocolate and other food. That includes an expected spend of $185.7 million on chocolate alone, a growth of 5.2 per cent compared to 2012.
Check out this egg-travagant creation from Sydney’s Gelato Messina.
THE EGG IS BACK! We've cracked another one out and this time we're not yolking about anything. The Egg returns for Easter with a white chocolate shell filled with milk chocolate gelato and a runny white chocolate 'yolk' centre. It's nestled in a spun sugar nest with white chocolate feathers and sits on a base of dark chocolate cream, chocolate jelly and hazelnut crunch. And yes, the egg yolk oozes when cut! Be quick as these lil' chicks are gonna go fast! Link in description
There are conflicting opinions online as to where the chocolate egg originated, but the earliest link may be the famous chocolatiers from the Piedmont region of Italy in the latter end of the 1700's that we owe the creation of the first chocolate Easter egg to.
The egg has been a symbol of rebirth and fertility for many centuries. Long before Christianity was introduced, eggs were painted with bright colours to celebrate the sunlight of spring. The tradition of colouring Easter eggs was a popular custom through the Middle Ages. The first of the highly fashioned Fabergé egg was made as an Easter gift in 1883 for the Empress Marie of Russia from her husband, Tsar Alexander. It featured a small gold egg in an outside shell of platinum and enamel.
In the 18th century people could buy papier-maché eggs, in which they hid small gifts. By the 19th Century cardboard eggs covered with silk or lace and adorned with ribbon were fashionable.
John Cadbury made his first 'French eating chocolate' in 1842 but it took until 1875 for the first Cadbury Easter Eggs to be made.
What about the Easter Bunny?
Real rabbits certainly don't lay eggs.
The origin of the Easter Bunny can be traced back to 13th Century, pre-Christian Germany. In this era people worshiped a number of gods and goddesses. The Teutonic deity ‘Eostra’ was the goddess of spring and fertility and her symbol was the rabbit in light of the animal’s high reproduction rate.
The first Easter Bunny legend occurred in the 1500s. By 1680, a story about a rabbit laying eggs and hiding them in a garden was published. Soon these stories were brought to the United States by way of German immigrants and the tradition of making nests for the rabbit to lay its eggs followed suit.
As you can imagine the tradition evolved and the decorations became brighter and more commercial and within a few hundred more years, well, you have Peeps!
Happy Easter, everyone! Remember: enjoy your Easter treats responsibility.