One of the symbols of spring in the Western world is the egg. Its round shape represents plenitude and fullness and protects a new life in the making: no wonders it is associated with nature waking up, flowers blooming, sun and all things nice.
Eggs are also the quintessential Easter food, as its shape resembles that of Jesus’ grave, and the little bird inside represent the rise of Christ from the dead. This is why so many cultures with a Christian background paint, hunt or eat eggs on Easter day and that’s why recipes such as the egg bread or the casatiello are so popular and widespread: beautiful dough shaped in crowns or plaits hugging hard-boiled eggs, sometimes beaming with springtime colours.
The other day I was translating marketing material regarding Easter activities and I struggled to find few words that could explain to Italian guests what an egg hunt is because it is unheard of in my country. I did some research and it appears to be a Christian tradition- hence its popularity in Germany, where it was encouraged by Luther, and the UK, for example- but it is not shared by the Catholics. Egg tapping is also an unknown kind celebration in Italy, and I came across this tradition for the first time this year.
Not being a fan of hard-boiled eggs and being hopeless with all things crafty, the only eggs I contemplate dealing with at Easter are the chocolate ones! To me, however, British Easter eggs are underwhelming compared to the ones we have in Italy. And I am not talking about the tooth-achingly sweet Cream Eggs, that appear on the shelves on January 2nd whose appreciation is beyond my understanding; I am talking the average chocolate egg you can find in any British supermarket. Even those of good quality are, first of all, small and look even smaller to me due their packaging, generally just coloured tin foil and a carton box in some cases.
In Italy, Easter eggs are placed in a plastic bowl to make them look bigger, and then wrapped in lots and lots of shiny, loud-coloured paper so that it looks more or less like those at the bottom of the page.
But is not only this: in my experience, British chocolate eggs weigh less (around 150g, while an average Italian egg is around 200g) and their chocolate is thinner, nothing like the thick chocolatey walls you have to smash with a fist: that was and still is, to me, the best thing about an Easter egg, the fact that you get these chunks of chocolate which for some reason are much more satisfying to eat, and that you have to use some strength to access to them.
And the surprise? Here most chocolate eggs are empty or contain a small box of chocolates, again! while Italian ones always have a surprise, and that is where the fun lies. Everyone is curious to see what is inside! Many brands have themed eggs, with a range of surprises with, for example, Ninja Turtles or Peppa Pig, so you know what to expect but you are still not sure about what toy are you actually getting. Admittedly, some of the surprises for grown-ups are a bit rubbish and most of the time they end up in the bin, but still, it is good fun to discover what is treasured in that chocolate shell.
Furthermore, here in the UK I don’t see the Easter egg craze we experience in Italy, where the choice of the chocolate egg is something crucial to make Easter Sunday really special. So translation-wise here we are, facing the same old problem: a word that can be translated and has a somewhat similar equivalent in the target culture, but evokes an intrinsically different experience.
What’s your take on Easter Eggs? Love them, hate them…? Please let me know your thoughts and your own Easter traditions!