Unlike other celebrations that fall on the same date every year such as Christmas, Halloween and Valentine’s Day, Easter is a moveable feast – the reason being Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox (work that one out!).
This means Easter can fall anywhere between the end of March to late April and the history behind this is long and complicated and goes back into the mists of time. There have been talks of fixing the date for Easter, but for the foreseeable future, we’ll just have to continue to rely on our calendars and calculators to find out when Easter is due to come around again.
As with so many annual events, Easter has become a retailer’s dream, with shoppers clamouring for Easter eggs, hot cross buns, chocolates, flowers, Easter cards, toy chicks and bunnies – not to mention for all us carnivores out there – a lovely piece of roast lamb with all the trimmings.
Although eggs have long been associated with the Christian festival as a symbol of rebirth, adopted from pagan traditions that celebrated the beginning of spring, chocolate eggs are a relatively recent addition to Easter traditions. But it’s no longer just a case of the good old hollow chocolate egg with a small packet of sweets inside, confectionary manufacturers have turned the tradition upside down to supply Easter treats for every diet, budget and taste.
What’s out there?
How about Chocolate Scotch Eggs? Yes that’s right – made from finest Belgian milk and white chocolate with a salted caramel fudge ‘yolk’ these quirky eggs are available now from Harvey Nichols.
In previous years if you were looking for vegan or free-from Easter eggs the choice was pretty limited. Now you can find a wide selection of vegan and free-from eggs and confectionary to satisfy every taste and dietary requirements including dairy, nut, gluten, soya and wheat free options. Suppliers include The Vegan Kind but many free-from options are also available at most UK supermarkets.
The sugar debate
It’s a well-known fact that eating too much sugar can make you gain weight and can also lead to other health problems including heart disease, diabetes and tooth decay. Sugar is a carbohydrate found naturally in a host of different foods, such as lactose in milk or fructose in fruit, and some sugar in your diet is necessary to keep your muscles and brain active.
The problem comes with processed foods – especially those marketed at children – that have added sugar that supplies plenty of energy in the form of calories, but not much else. We can end up eating more sugar than we realise because so many processed foods, including bread, cereals, soups and sauces all contain added sugar. Fizzy drinks and sugary snacks have also been strongly linked to rising tooth decay in children, something that is entirely preventable yet remains the number one reason for childhood hospital admissions for general anaesthesia in the UK.
Just enjoy it
Despite the bad press, sweet treats in moderation are not going to do any significant harm and we should enjoy indulging in chocolate and the like without feeling constantly guilty. A good relationship with food not only helps build a healthy body, it creates a healthy mind-set as well. After all, a healthy diet is just about eating fruit and vegetables – it’s about a balanced diet of eating a variety of nutritious foods along with the occasional ‘less healthy’ options and instead of seeing food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, see food as something to enjoy.
We’ve just endured a year like no other in terms of being able to live life to the full. Now lockdown restrictions are finally being slowly eased, if this isn’t a good enough reason to enjoy a bit of indulgence this Easter weekend – I’m not sure what is. Happy Easter!