Because the Easter holidays are getting sniffingly close, we thought it was about time to delve head first into a blog post about one of our favourite topics - CHOCOLATE!
Easter is the one of the chocolatiest times of year, but where did it all begin? What's the history of Easter eggs, why do we give them, and what's with all the chocolate??
It's all thought to have started a few thousand years ago, far, far away, in the deserts of the Middle East. An ancient civilisation - the Zoroastrians - decorated birds' eggs in sumptuous colours and designs, to celebrate their New Year, which always fell on the Spring Equinox.
Photo by Algirdas on wikicommons
And when Easter became a fixture in the Christian calendar, the humble egg became an important symbol - of resurrection, of the tomb of Christ and the beginning of new life. Eggs came to be linked with Easter, as worshippers brought baskets of decorated eggs to their church to be blessed.
Today, it's the chocolate eggs that take pride of place in most households, and this tradition is a relatively new one. Easter always falls at the end of lent, when traditionally, the eating of eggs was forbidden. So the end of lent was often marked with a celebratory egg-feast!
These celebrations turned to chocolate in the 19th century. Wealthy households in France and Germany began to give little solid chocolate eggs as gifts to mark the end of lent and the start of the Easter holidays. The first eggs weren't very tasty - they were bitter and dark, because the production of chocolate was a new science. But, gradually, as techniques improved and cocoa became more widely available the tradition spread to many parts of Europe. Different countries had their own unique design, pattern or flavour of chocolate egg.
The first mass produced chocolate Easter eggs were made here, in the UK, by John Cadbury in 1875, when Cadbury found a way to make liquid chocolate flow properly into moulds. In 1905 the Dairy Milk Easter egg was launched with great success.
image by Crispin Semmens on wikicommons
Today, most of the chocolate Easter eggs sold in Britain are made from sweet, milky chocolate, and chocolate eggs are recognised across the world as a symbol of Easter - by children and adults alike. Last year, we spent £280 million on chocolate Easter eggs!
Don't forget to enter our fabulous raffle for a beautiful chocolate egg, and come and join us for a day of fun with our Easter Egg-stravaganza. There'll be a brilliant Easter Egg hunt, stalls, lots of laughs and a visit from a special Easter bunny - click here for details.
image by essie82 on sxc.hu