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Easter

1st March 2018

A holiday enjoyed by families every year, Easter is a time for friends, food and having fun. Rooted in religion, Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For 40 days before Easter Sunday, Christians observe Lent through fasting or cutting out certain indulgent foods. Easter also coincides with the arrival of spring, so many age-old pagan festivals occurred around this time too. This explains why Easter celebrations nowadays are as much about the arrival of a new season as they are about a Christian observance.

Chocolate Easter eggs have become synonymous with this time of year. Incredibly popular, they tend to be found in the shops as soon as Christmas is over. The religious basis for eating eggs at Easter is that they symbolise the empty tomb of Jesus. However, eggs are also symbols of new life, associated with the spring season.

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While the history of eggs at Easter makes perfect sense at this time of year, the chocolate Easter egg has become a trend all of its own. The very first chocolate Easter eggs were made in the 19th century. Each year, chocolatiers try to out-do themselves with weirder and more wonderful creations. The tallest ever chocolate Easter egg reached 10.39 metres in height. It was made in Italy in 2011, and also weighed a massive 7,200kg!

In the UK, around 80 million chocolate Easter eggs are sold every year. The most popular Easter egg across the world is the Cadbury’s Crème Egg – 500 million are produced every year. And for those interested in the very specialised theme of Easter egg eating techniques, 76% of people eat the ears on chocolate Easter bunnies first. Some polls have the proportion as high as 89%!

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As well as Easter eggs, there are plenty of other Easter traditions that have fascinating back-stories too. The Easter bunny and Easter egg hunts are popularly thought to be a fairly modern way to celebrate Easter, but the very first story about a rabbit hiding eggs in a garden was published in 1680. The name of Easter itself comes from an Anglo-Saxon goddess called Eostre. This goddess was strongly connected with hares, eggs and fertility – helping to explain these themes that pop up at this time of year. A lesser known food connected with Easter is the humble pretzel – due to the twists that are said to represent arms crossing in prayer. It’s also a food that can be cooked without the use of any animal products, tying in with traditional observances over Lent.

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Easter is an important time for people across the world, whether it’s a religious observance, a springtime festival or simply a time for family. Author Janine di Giovanni says: “Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal, and new life.” Chef Alex Guarnaschelli says: “Easter is an arts and crafts moment where your whole family and friends can get involved.” Others see it as a time to give up a bad habit. American actress Ethel Merman famously said: “At one time I smoked, but in 1959 I couldn’t think of anything else to give up for Lent so I stopped – and I haven’t had a cigarette since!”

Whatever Easter means to you, The Athenaeum is the place to make it the holiday you want it to be. Join us for Easter lunch at Galvin at The Athenaeum by Michelin star chefs, stay with us over Easter or give a gift voucher as an alternative present. Say hello to the holidays, family and spring!

EASTER AT THE ATHENAEUM
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