Easter Eggstravaganza in Mallorca

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How egg-citing! Easter is literally a bunny-hop away, and for the past few weeks I have been stashing away chocolate eggs whenever I come across them. Well, the idea was to save them all for Easter but I tend to eat choccy orbs as quickly as I buy them so sadly there is no real ‘stash’ to speak of!
However, I’ve been told that back in the UK, Easter eggs have been in the shops since Christmas, even though they only make an appearance here in Mallorca closer to the big event.

Easter, or Semana Santa as it’s known here on the island, not only showcases the most revered religious holiday in the Christian calendar but seriously symbolises the founding centerpiece of Christian theology, whilst commercially and incidentally marking the irrefutable start of the island’s tourist season!

However, both here and in the UK, there are many people (particularly children) whose main association with Easter celebrations is acquiring a deluge of chocolate eggs rather than commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is actually leading this massive pious parade. So how did eggs turn up in the middle of Christianity’s biggest religious happening? And how, in some people’s eyes, did chocolate somehow become more important than Christ?

Whilst the Easter egg is a relatively new tradition, fronted by commercial manufacturers and retailers alike, pagan symbolism behind the humble egg pre-dates Christianity by a huge hop, skip and a bunny jump, which also introduces another character –‘the random rabbit’ into this mysterious Easter mix! Rabbits (or more correctly, hares) throughout pagan culture, have long been identified as potent symbols of fertility. And as for the egg, well it speaks for itself, doesn’t it? The beginning of life, with a cheeky visual nod to the pale shape of the Moon, another major fertility reference!

Chocolate eggs were introduced into Europe in the early 19th century, with France and Germany paving the confectionary pathway. John Cadbury developed his famously iconic ‘eating chocolate recipe’ in 1842, but it was not until 1875 that the first Cadbury’s chocolate Easter eggs were produced for the masses.

However, none of these contemporary symbols, eggs, milk chocolate bunnies or chirping chicks, have anything to do with the true Christian belief and celebration behind the pure meaning of Easter.
Christmas Day always falls on 25th December, yet the date for Easter is never fixed, but calculated by the phase of our lunar orb, always falling on the first Sunday following the full moon at the time of the Spring equinox, when the length of days and nights become equal.

Historically, many ancient cultures have celebrated this Springtime ‘rite’ as a natural time of birth and renewal, following the darkness and hardship of a long winter. The exact date of Christ’s crucifixion is flexible, and seems to follow the moon in this moving trend! Therefore, the birth of Christianity has woven its own heartfelt beliefs and traditions into the romantic version of Easter that we know today, and celebrate in earnest across the entire island during this current week.

Yet, like most fiestas here in Mallorca, Easter is not only commemorated with prayers and processions, but with the baking and eating of ‘panades’, ‘robiols’ and ‘crespells’ made especially and passionately for the festive occasion. Local housewives have been busy for weeks rolling and crimping for all they are worth. So I suppose, while we have choccy eggs in Blighty, here they have pastry; although they do tend to repeat the same delicacies to celebrate every occasion throughout the year! Sadly, the hot cross bun hasn’t caught on over here as of yet. Shame!

With a cheeky poke to history, it is reported that a 12th century Anglican monk in jolly old UK, supposedly decorated a sweet bun with a simple pastry cross in honour of Good Friday, which has now been adopted as yet another undeniable symbol of Easter, and another exquisite delight we can tuck into as we ponder and reflect on the past origins of Easter traditions.

As an observer of global faiths, even though I used to believe that Mary Berry was solely responsible for Easter, I fully appreciate the principles and ideals behind all religious traditions. And like most fiestas and celebrations here on the island, Easter is also a time for friends and families to reflect, get together, and hopefully forget for a few blissful moments, all the problems, trials and tribulations which are currently blighting our world. So here’s wishing you all – a truly peaceful Easter.

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