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Thoughts on Easter, US vs. UK style - Becca the Brit's Blog [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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Thoughts on Easter, US vs. UK style [Apr. 12th, 2009|07:21 pm]
wwpostergirl
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I don't know why all these observations about how different Easter is here vs. in the UK have only struck me this year.  After all, this is our 10th Easter  in the States!

1)  In the UK, everybody gets Good Friday and Easter Monday off work.  It's a 4 day weekend and second only to Christmas in terms of big national holidays - much in the same way that Thanksgiving is here.  For that reason it's a big UK holiday in terms of traveling home to see family - even if it means long car drives/flights.  My stepsister and her family have driven almost 300 miles to spend Easter with my dad and stepmom, for instance.  Here I see that people tend to spend the holiday with family if they are within a short driving distance (maybe 1-2 hours), but you're not so apt to fly or spend all day in the car - you'd do that at Thanksgiving instead.

2)  The Easter Bunny is an entirely US phenomenon.  You won't find a man dressed up in a giant bunny costume and a line of kids in new outfits waiting to have their picture taken with him in any British mall.  I guess that's why I haven't succumbed to it yet - the whole idea is a bit odd to me!

3)  The traditional Easter dinner is roast lamb, not ham.

4)  Egg hunts are unheard of in the UK.

5)  We wouldn't dye eggs either.

6)  I never had a new Easter dress that I remember - that wasn't a tradition I was aware of, at any rate.

7)  I felt badly this morning when Amy presented Abby with an Easter gift (crocs and a lollipop with a cute card) - apparently I missed the memo that you should get an Easter gift for your godchildren, because I got nothing for Caitie or the Judson boys. :(  Sorry Amy!  As reinforcement of this, JJ didn't get anything from his (British, committed Christian) godparents, so it must be a cultural difference.

8)  No baskets of goodies in the UK on Easter morning.  The traditional gift there is a hollow chocolate egg.  When we were kids we'd get maybe 3 or 4 (from parents, grandparents and anyone else who was visiting) and we'd ration them out to last a week or two.  It was one of the few occasons in the year when I was allowed chocolate (the others being Christmas and birthdays).  But we certainly never got DVDs, toys or other stuff that appear to be common Easter gifts here.  I wondering if this may be a generational thing (are kids in the UK getting baskets these days?) or just representative of the increasing commercialization of all holidays?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: lcmed
2009-04-13 12:18 am (UTC)
1. When I went to Assumption we had Holy Thursday, Good Friday AND Easter Monday off. Pretty nice, especially since most colleges don't have Good Friday.

8. As a kid, I mostly remember getting chocolate in my basket, especially one of those solid bunnies. I think the holiday has become more commercialized and baskets have become "bigger".
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[User Picture]From: baybeegrrl29
2009-04-13 12:36 am (UTC)
When I was a kid I always got an Easter dress (pre-Easter day), a basket full of chocolate and other candy, and some other gift, usually clothes (on Easter morning). The eggs were hidden by the Easter bunny and the hiding fun continued throughout the day wherever we were. The eggs went into the basket received that morning and were dragged all over the place.
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[User Picture]From: quinbee
2009-04-13 12:56 am (UTC)
I've never seen people getting their pictures taken with the Easter Bunny here either. Not to say that it doesn't happen -- maybe I'm just out of the bunny picture loop -- but I haven't seen it anywhere I've gone.

It's funny you mention cultural differences though because my husband is perplexed by our holiday traditions here too.
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[User Picture]From: jamib
2009-04-13 01:14 am (UTC)
When I was a kid we didn't get elaborate Easter baskets. A chocolate bunny, marshmallow peeps, a cadbury egg and jelly beans were the norm along with a jump rope, paddle ball, and punch ball....ocassionally a small plush...but that's it. Nothing as outlandish as these days.
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[User Picture]From: xinie
2009-04-13 01:14 am (UTC)
I think a lot of 2, 7, and 8 is the commercialization. My brother and I only got baskets from my parents and grandparents- we always spent Easter with my dad's parents. There was some chocolate/candy from the Bunny and a little chocolate plus new fancy "gatchies" (underpants) from my grandparents. In all of my photos of me from Easter, I think I am wearing an Easter dress and bonnet (I had four older girl cousins, so the likelyhood of it being new was slim!), looking VERY UNCOMFORTABLE to be holding up underpants for the camera!

The bunny only appeared at the mall recently.

What about the chocolate bell? I think reading that should be the Heathen Haggadah.

I will ask Ben about what they did down in Cornwall and Saudi...
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[User Picture]From: wwpostergirl
2009-04-13 11:06 am (UTC)
Love that David Sedaris story, glad you found it online!
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[User Picture]From: jamib
2009-04-13 05:31 pm (UTC)
I went to see the Bunny when I was younger....maybe 7 was the youngest...so it's been around here for quite a while.
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[User Picture]From: amymarr
2009-04-13 01:22 am (UTC)
I learned how to be a godmother by imitating other godmothers I knew - lcmed, Greg's cousin Amanda, and jamib. As J put it, it's not about the *things*, it's about the *remembrance*. Easter is first and foremost a religious holiday, and it's partly my responsibility to keep it special for Abby. :)

That said, don't feel too badly. Caitlin didn't even notice, I assure you. She was perfectly happy to just run around and play with Abby during Sunday School - that made her morning!

Also, we used to go to my mother's for Easter, but it's just become too expensive and difficult now.
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[User Picture]From: choosale
2009-04-13 01:34 am (UTC)
At some point when my sister lived in London, she did send a picture of maybe her oldest with the Easter bunny. And I believe it was taken at Harrods. The thing that made us laugh was that he was brown, not white.

I'll have to ask her - she'll remember. I can't really remember if it was her oldest, or her oldest two.

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[User Picture]From: heidi_and_colin
2009-04-13 01:49 am (UTC)
1) My town had Good Friday off as a kid - having a lot to do with the high Catholic population. There was no school in Hudson on Good Friday this year, but Marlborough did have school.

2) My understanding is that Easter Bunny/ egg coloring comes from a German tradition and was brought by German settlers to Pennsylvania.

3) I saw a program that the reason for this is that traditionally early American settlers slaughtered their stock in Autumn (so they wouldn't have to feed them over the winter) and this is the time of year the pig was ready for eating. Thus it became a tradition.

7) I never had god parents growing up, but my understanding is that they are just there to help with the spiritual commitment, and there are no gift obligations. :)

8) We had baskets of candy growing up. chocolate eggs, jelly beans, and a chocolate bunny. I did the same for my kids, nothing really fancy, but they also got books and bubbles.

One reason I might have some bigger gifts over the years for Easter is that I have 2 children born in the late Fall and Christmas is right then too, so they are not likely to receive many outside toys or summer stuff for their b-days. That leaves me to either buy them things randomly, or to give them stuff at Easter.
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[User Picture]From: sillymary
2009-04-13 02:16 am (UTC)
Well, I know for us, the basket was filled with toys and DVD's because Evan isn't allowed much in the way of candy. :) So it is a great alternative for us. We didn't do the bunny, but I am not sure what Evan's reaction would be, he tends to just get the funniest "WHAT THE HECK!?" face over any of those picture moments with Santa or what have you. He also wore his regular PJ's while celebrating this morning. He can't handle those little-man outfits at all. We did the egg hunt, but with fruit snacks and jelly beans inside.
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[User Picture]From: elizabethann40
2009-04-13 02:36 am (UTC)
When I was a kid, my parents made the most humongous baskets for each of us, but that was mostly because my parents love chocolate. Since hardboiled eggs are not chocolate, we didn't dye eggs much. Never saw an egg hunt.

No bunny pix growing up.

No gifts from godparents.

I did get a basketball once for Easter. I think everything has gotten bigger and more commercialized and now people are making it into a mini-Christmas. My kids got chocolate. And I stole from their baskets, another time-honored tradition.
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[User Picture]From: gunthersdncemix
2009-04-13 03:50 am (UTC)
I went to really strict catholic school and was raised by fairly strict catholic parents. My parents both grew up in europe, so we had other traditions that most of my friends didn't like blessing our easter baskets at church on the saturday before. We sometimes got behind and bought extra candy/dyed eggs on sunday and my dad made sure that we all had to eat from the "blessed food baskets."

We made up a basket for each of us but ended up sharing most of the food candy since some of it was things like meat, eggs and bread. My godmother gave us some extra candy if we ran into her at church. She bought more expensive candy than my parents, and it was "my own" but it was never a lot.

We tended to have lots of candy but mostly I think because almost everyone in my family has a wicked bad sweet tooth. Plus - we got super extra guilt trips and had to go to church at least 2x a week during lent, so I think we appreciated it more.

We usually had good friday off and a half day on holy thursday iirc. I think we had school again on monday.
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[User Picture]From: 3_misters_mama
2009-04-13 11:29 am (UTC)
On the Godparent thing. My family and Mike's are very different. Mike's never gotten anything special from his godparents. I dont even know who his godparents are. My family has always done a little 'extra' for the Godchildren, though now that my kids are here, i'm lucky if they get an acknowledgement that they are somebody's godchildren.
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[User Picture]From: michjoh
2009-04-13 01:36 pm (UTC)
I think a lot has to do with the population. Here in the US there are so many different religions and not all celebrate Easter. I was raised in a traditional Catholic family and attended Catholic school all my life. We were always off for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Mondy. Easter Monday not because it was a special holiday or had anything to do with Easter, but because the Mother's Club always held a card party on Monday afternoon and it was in the school gym. Also it allowed the families that did travel out of town time to get back without missing school. We didn't have a spring break like so many other schools, just the days around Easter. Now it is the same thing at the Catholic school where I teach. No spring break really just a few days off around Easter. My kids attend the public school and they have the same days off Thursday-Monday but they are calling it spring break so it is consistant with the whole separation of Church and State.

We didn't get elaborate baskets of stuff. We got candy but as we grew older my mom replaced the trinkets and candy with Cd's Concert tickets, cash, things she knew we would like. My kids never really get anything special from their godparents for Easter. I did get a new Easter dress every year but it was more of my first Spring Church dress of the year because I grew and needed new Spring/Summer church dresses.
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[User Picture]From: bethany1977
2009-04-13 09:01 pm (UTC)
I got tests for Good Friday and Easter Monday.
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