Happy Christmas from Yello80s! Hope you’re spending it with family and friends and your tree is loaded with selection boxes galore!
Easter in the UK is a slightly different deal than the US celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ. For one, kids manage to wrangle off a fortnight (that’s 14 days) from school compared to our once Good Friday to Easter Monday that’s dwindled down in some schools to Easter Sunday itself (can you say complete jip? Nobody goes to school on Sunday! Except for…ahem…Sunday School and try arguing having a holiday off Sunday School on Easter.)
Christian British families of course attend church and just like in America, if you haven’t made it to church all year for anything other than funerals and weddings you tend to get there for the holiest day of the year. There a couple of slight differences in the Lent/Easter calendar to observe: Lent, the 40 day period before Easter is kicked off by Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday in the UK where over here we get it going with Mardi Gras. They eat pancakes (more like crepes to the American palate), we eat King Cake. They break Lent up with Mothering Sunday and a Simnel Cake (a sort of fruit cake with 11 balls of marzipan on top representing the Apostles minus Judas), we leave Mother’s Day until after Easter and take Mum to Dairy Queen for an ice cream cake.
We both agree on Hot Cross Buns which aren’t so widely eaten outside the Catholic/ Lutheren/ Episcopal churches here but if you haven’t had one they’re basically little spiced buns with raisins or currants and an icing cross over the top representing The Cross- yes, that one unless you know of another. And of course the UK has an Easter Bunny though he very well may have an accent.
Not growing up in the UK I rely on my husband’s eloquence about the grand old Easters of yore (read: 80s) when they congregated around a table full of Easter eggs and Cadbury’s made up any yearly deficits in profits within the 48 hours between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Let’s face it, Hallmark invented Valentine’s Day for the Americas and Cadbury’s cornered Easter- they got the bunny, and the eggs. I’m not talking a table full of little Creme Eggs, I’m talking big monster eggs from the major candy manufacturers- hollow eggs in special boxes containing small versions of popular candy bars either in the eggs themselves or in the packaging. So you may have an Aero egg with a couple of small Aero bars or a Smarties Egg filled with Smarties or this year I saw a Smarties egg box shaped like a barn with a cow-shaped chocolate filled with mini Smarties. At any rate this is what British children are hoping to score from the Big Bun. Getting them here is a challenge and a large expense but we always manage- these are a couple I have on authority from the Rabbit himself are going to be found in the Quayle Easter baskets this year…
Eggs aren’t the only treats that may pop up on UK tables… many candy companies put out other special merchandise this time of year to complete the Easter experience such as these funky square Cadbury mugs. All I’m saying is, let’s ditch those little foil eggs and get some real loot!
Cadbury’s Caramel Bunny ad courtesy HallOfAdvertising
Let’s be honest, Easter in the 80s was pretty much like Easter in every other decade except perhaps for the amount of candy and junk available for the bunny to tote along and perhaps the loss of those pre-70s REALLY SCARY TO HELL Easter Bunnies mothers insisted scarring their children for life with for an Easter photo at the mall everyone would remember. The reason for the season hadn’t changed; people still piled in the car on Easter Sunday Best to go to church, stole candy from their brothers and sisters; hunted for their basket on Easter morning and dyed eggs with those PAAS kits.
What the 80s could claim solely, however, was the Cadbury Easter Bunny (known as the “Clucking Bunny’) hopping onto screens everywhere to lay Cadbury Creme Eggs in 1982 (the Cadbury Creme Egg itself as we know it today debuted in 1971 but he bunny ads are only shown in North America- lucky us!).
Cadbury Bunny Tryouts courtesy McGuireLindsey
Decorating for Easter has always been a favourite pastime; getting those cheap plastic eggs strung up over the bushes, placing panoramic sugar eggs and crosses on the dining table just so, dying real eggs and buying pysanka eggs because who has time for that? I recall most houses getting those cheapo plastic blowup bunnies holding a carrot from Kmart and tying them to the porch or just to poles outside in the yard like some kind of warning that the Big Bunny better bring chocolate and none of those RainBlo eggs or else. Our own particular colouring tradition came from my Grampa J- he always dipped the last egg into all of the colour pots to make a nasty looking grey egg for some reason. I dunno but we still do it every year!
Easter morning came and in our haste to get downstairs to find all the eggs *and* the basket *and* negotiate for more than one jellybean before church *and* whine that while dying the eggs was fun and finding the eggs was fun, nobody wants them for breakfast, we completely forgot to thank our mums and dads for the new bonnets and shoes and ties. Nobody ever head of getting toys instead of candy in baskets- if the Bunny didn’t leave you with at least 1 filling and a crown he’d better not come crawling back next year- the Tooth Fairy would take care of him by golly.
My parents tried the ‘if you’re not good the Easter Bunny won’t come’ but I didn’t buy it. What did the Easter Bunny care if I was good or not? What did a basket full of sweets have to do with the resurrection of Our Lord? Jesus cared if I was good and He didn’t come around one night a year and hide our eggs. As long as I got my favourites it was all good- Cadbury Creme Egg, Reeces Egg, those little foiled Hershey eggs (not those cheap buggers where you could see the mould seam through the foil thanks), some jelly beans (no black or red, please), a few gumdrops, a panoramic sugar egg, a Palmer’s chocolate bunny, a Russel Stover coconut creme egg and a white chocolate cross. My mum was partial to those malted Robin Eggs and the little chocolate baskets with chocolate eggs (that one bought at an actual candy store and not through the checkout of Dollar General) and my dad was partial to those 1 lb chocolate eggs with the peanut butter filling and a sugar flower on top though he usually ended up getting something like a Pizza Hut juice glass. One year he got Grumpy Bear and I got Tenderheart Bear although he’ll argue to the death the Grumpy Bear glass was in my basket. Nice try pops. And I think I was the only kid in school who hated Peeps.
The particular draw about church at Easter was taking home a lily from the altar and showing off my new little purse with a clasp (extremely haute couture) that fit all of a golf pencil, string of mardi gras beads and possibly half of a mini New Testament. I didn’t always understand that portion of the Gospel and after I’d shown off my stuff and bragged about my Easter basket I was just trying to get home to it because frankly, Easter clothes itch and we didn’t have any of those Resurrection Rolls or cool crafts they have now to keep kids quiet during Sunday School because of course this is the most important holiday in the Christian year. And there was no getting out of Easter Service- my mother was the pianist and choir director.
Then home to Easter Dinner (pick the palm cross from the Sunday before up off the floor and reaffix to the door after every guest walked in until dad took it down for the day). Easter Dinner was a total letdown for kids. Unlike Hallowe’en where the last thing in your mouth before you and all the other kids went to bed was something right out of your booty bag, you had one whole day to go through eating stuff other than candy before another chance at getting said candy which was on display in the same room as all the other stuff you were expected to eat and be glad about because mum and gramma and whoever slaved all morning over a hot stove. Ham with pineapples and cherries, potatoes and corn and beans, little peach bird nests with cream cheese ‘birds’- ugh, just turn the oven down so it doesn’t melt my chocolate! And some ultra lucky kids got to top the day off with a Baskin Robins Easter Bunny cake cos noBunny knows Easter like Baskin Robbins right? Except Cadbury. You betcha.
What are some of your 80s Easter memories? Favourite candies? Wierd places you found your Easter basket? Cool stuff you did at church?