Well-travelled writer Shani Bishop shares her UK easter traditions.
Text: Shani Bishop
I was curious about the Easter traditions in Denmark because they were different to the UK. I loved the little trees and decorated eggs which hung on them. My kids used to bring home gækkebreve, which I thought were delightful.
Easter traditions in the UK
Easter activities and traditions vary depending on how religious you are. Some people will go to church, while most will use the time off to see family and friends. When I worked at a University before leaving for Denmark, I used to love Easter. I liked it because we got a week off and unlike Christmas, there was very little to do!
Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate
As you'd expect in a country obsessed with food, the options for chocolate treats at Easter are enormous. The shops store a vast array of products. There is a push to have more recycled options now, so thankfully, the amount of plastic is less than it used to be. There are a lot of eggs from companies you'd expect like Cadburys and Nestle and speciality products from chocolate makers like Hotel Chocolat, Montezuma and others. There are lots of vegan options now too.
Heston is a chef to die for!
One of the nicer supermarkets has a partnership with a fabulous chef called Heston. At Christmas and Easter, Heston always has fantastic food offerings. At the moment, Waitrose is selling 4 Eggstraordinary Chocolate Hen's Eggs. These are white chocolate eggs with a soft and sticky two-tone banoffee centre, fresh banana purée and dark chocolate caramel ganache layers. I'll definitely be buying some of those!
We all remember what it was like to be a foreign national in Denmark, so I welcome newcomers. My sons were surprised when I said 'welcome' to some Hong Kongers who have set up a fantastic bubble tea shop in our nearest town. We had an interesting chat about living aboard and how they are faring.
What the children enjoy
Usually, parents will buy one large Easter egg for each child. Then, there's usually an Easter egg hunt in the garden to discover the eggs hidden by the Easter bunny and lunch with the family. Traditionally lamb is served.
When children are little, parents will make Easter bonnets for them to wear in competitions, or they might paint eggs at home together. In addition, some country parks offer egg rolling competitions where you roll your egg downhill.
What we all enjoy
All the bakeries and supermarkets sell Hot Cross Buns. They are spiced buns with a cross on top. Nowadays you can get all sorts of varieties. My favourites are chocolate and orange or the very chocolatey ones. They are delicious toasted with butter.
By Easter, the weather in the UK is good, and spring flowers are in full swing, so there are lots of outdoor activities. The National Trust (a national charity that manages over 500 historic houses, gardens and parks) organises Easter Egg hunts around their beautiful gardens. Often local places of interest do this as well. For example, we live near Wisley, a large beautiful garden managed by the Royal Horticultural Society. Every year they have an egg hunt, and as it runs with Lindt, you get a posh chocolate bunny at the end.
I'm not sure if we have been lucky with the weather this winter, but it has been really good. I struggled in Denmark with the darkness and long winters, so living here has been a really beneficial change. There is sunshine most days, and the light levels are high even on grey days. It can get down to nought degrees, but the lack of wind means it feels warmer. I have noticed differences in the weather and wonder if this is down to climate change. As a child, the daffodils came up in late March. I remember this because I gave daffodils to my mum on Mother's Day, which falls in late March in the UK. Now the daffodils come up in early February. I'll be interested to see if it's just this year or every year.