Here are some Aussie Easter traditions from Embrace Australia
Article by Lisa Valentine
Britain has lots of Easter traditions such as the kids favourite Easter animal; the Easter bunny and the joys of the Easter egg hunt. You may think that most other countries that celebrate Easter would have many of the same traditions and whilst that is true, some of the traditions have a rather surprising twist to them. So let’s have a look at how Australia celebrates Easter.
Easter is traditionally associated with spring and new birth. It’s the time when blossom starts to appear on our bare trees and the first daffodils are peeping out of the ground. Lambs and chicks are popular images with children as the dead, dark, dreary days of winter finally give way to the life and joys of Spring. But of course April in Australia is not in the Spring, instead Easter is celebrated in the Autumn when the countryside is bathed in glorious colours of gold, burgundy, deep purples and dazzling orange hues. So for Australians, Easter is when they bid farewell to summer and start making preparations for the coming of winter.
The Australian Easter is generally a four day weekend, starting on Good Friday and ending on Easter Monday. Every shop is closed on Good Friday and it is the only day of the year when newspapers are also unavailable – an event unheard of in the UK! The religious significance remains the same, with many Christian Australians observing mass on either Good Friday or Easter Sunday.
The Easter Bilby
Now the Easter bunny – what could be cuddlier? This friendly little chap traditionally goes around with a basket of eggs hiding them in your garden all ready for that Easter egg hunt. The tradition started in Germany and the bunny was seen as a symbol of fertility, perhaps some couples hoped the bunny would bring more than eggs to their houses. However in Australia the bunny has a rather different perception and it’s none too friendly.
The bilby is a rabbit-eared Bandicoot that is currently endangered in Australia. The idea of the bilby replacing the Easter bunny is thought to have come about from the South Australia National Parks Service. The Foundation for a Rabbit-Free Australia have successfully campaigned for the Bilby to become the traditional Australian symbol of Easter. And with its long floppy ears, large dark eyes and pointed nose it’s just as cuddly and cute as its British counterpart. The famous Australian author Jeni Bright wrote a story about Burra Nimu, the Easter Bilby for children to further the cause of replacing the traditional bunny with the bilby.
Chocolate Hot Cross BunsThe Hot Cross Bun also has a different variation in Australia. Not to be seen to be missing out on life’s treats, the dried fruit is replaced with chocolate chips and the spiced mixture of the dough has another ingredient – cocoa. Making the Australian hot cross buns deliciously different.
Royal Easter ShowEach Easter Sydney plays host to the famous Royal Easter Show, a unique agricultural show where the very best of Australian produce is proudly showcased and exhibited. Everything from farm animals to fruit and veg is displayed here – but only the best of the best! The event has now become a spectacular carnival and a much celebrated date in Sydney’s calendar. Other highlights are fairground rides, fireworks, amazing robot displays, parades and of course the tasting of Australia’s finest cuisine.
Egg KnockingIn families all over Australia the Easter game of egg-knocking will be played. Everyone involved has to find a partner and then choose an egg each – these can be chocolate eggs, hard boiled or for the more adventurous, fresh eggs. One partner then taps the other’s egg with their own and so on, each taking it in turns to tap the egg. The first egg to crack loses and the winner is then free to challenge the winner of another pair. The game continues until there is only one egg left which the winner presumably has to eat. Especially if it’s a fresh egg and the winner is being all smug about winning.
Easter Egg HuntsOf course Australia observe the traditional Easter egg hunts, but this being Australia, some of the egg hunts are organised in slightly unusual places, such as the Dolphin Scuba Diving Centre in Perth where chocolate eggs are hunted by divers. One of Australia’s biggest Easter egg hunts is organised by Vision Australia, a charity that works with visually impaired people. Over 75,000 eggs are hidden in Bendigo, Victora on Good Friday and around 2,500 children participate in the egg hunts every year. Blimey, that’s 30 eggs per child!
Easter is just around the corner and we look forward to passing on many more Easter-themed ideas to
our dear readers!
Vanessa & Lauren