This title is a misnomer, because we are actually not having one this year, ha. But I thought I’d give a quick overview of some of the things you see in London around Easter.
First off, there’s time off. Good Friday and Easter Monday are holidays here, so everyone has a four-day weekend. School children (and their teachers) enjoy a long break at Easter, at least two weeks off; some have three.
Easter Bonnet Parade
Without a separation of church and state here, no one bats an eye at state primary schools and nurseries putting on nativity plays at Christmas or Easter bonnet parades at Easter. It’s just tradition.
Children (or their parents) decorate their bonnets, usually with Easter or spring-themed tat, and then wear them in a parade down the road.
I ran into my friend who is a real-deal fine artist—represented in a London gallery and everything—on the street this week, carrying a naked bonnet. She had walked something like 3 miles in search of one at the last minute, and was headed home to spend the rest of her morning hot-gluing polyester flowers to it. She seemed a tad chagrined that this was how her master’s in fine art was being spent.
E’s school parade ended up being a washout due to rain, but the children still wore their bonnets anyway, and there were some spectacular ones, some including actual dirt and planted flowers.
And here are some pics from E’s nursery parade last year:
Some people do go off-Easter theme. Well, I mean there ARE eggs, anyway.
And here are a few more cute ideas I saw online:
Hot Cross Buns
You see lots of hot cross buns in the grocery stores and bakeries this time of year. It’s a spiced bun made with dried fruit (usually currants) and marked with a cross on top, traditionally eaten on Good Friday.
We started Good Friday with the Bramley Apple version, which, I have to say, tasted like a sweet yeasty roll with raisins and nothing like apples.
As a child in the United States, on Easter morning the Easter Bunny left me an Easter basket with fake green plastic “grass”, plastic eggs filled with jelly beans, some other small gifts and treats, marshmallow Peeps, and the main feature: the big chocolate bunny. In England, you don’t get any of that. Here it’s all about the giant chocolate egg, usually filled with more chocolates inside. On Easter morning children receive their giant chocolate egg, and if they’re lucky, maybe they’ll get another one later from Granny.
M got me one last year and this year from Hotel Chocolat that was just the most incredible edible egg ever:
Easter egg hunts are done here too, sometimes called an “Easter egg trail,” where children follow clues or signpost markers on their quest for small coloured-foil-wrapped chocolate eggs.
Lots of area attractions (zoos, palaces, Royal Trust properties, etc.) set up Easter egg trails to get families to come in during the school holidays. You may get another large chocolate egg at the end if you complete it.
I haven’t seen any egg-dying kits in the stores, so apparently dying eggs isn’t done here. You also don’t see Peeps or jelly beans. Cadbury eggs, though, obviously!
Lamb is a lot more common on menus and tables in England than in America in general, and at Easter it’s definitely the main course, served with mint or red currant jelly.
For Easter pudding, there’s Simnel cake, a fruit cake topped with marzipan and marzipan eggs.
If you have any room left for more sweets after your giant chocolate egg, of course.