Saturday, April 23, 2011

An American's Guide to Easter in Australia

Brown eggs made pretty

Shortly after we arrived in Australia 2 years ago the room mom in my daughter's class organised an Easter Egg hunt for all the kids.  Her email invited us all down to the beach after school and asked each parent to bring a bag of Easter eggs for the hunt.

I searched high and low for Easter baskets (and finally found one style at the fake Aussie Target).  But the big plastic Easter eggs were elusive.  I emailed the room mom to ask where to get the eggs.  Her reply was something like this, "Each parent should bring a bag of chocolate eggs.  They are available at all the shops."  Duh.

Easter eggs=chocolate eggs.  And they are everywhere.  The shops are packed with choco eggs, along with choco bunnies and the occasional choco bilby.  But good luck finding any other Easter candy.  No peeps (gasp!), no jelly bellies, no reese's eggs, no pastel M&Ms. 

When we showed up for the egg hunt my kids were ready, armed with their bright green cheap-o Easter baskets.  (I was really wishing I had brought our cute personalized Pottery Barn ones).  To my surprise they were the ONLY kids there with baskets.  A few kids had plastic grocery bags.  Some used paper lunch sacks.  Others just used their pockets to hold their loot.  I got several comments about our "American" Easter Baskets and it was painfully obvious that I was missing the nuances of Easter- one of the biggest Aussie holidays.

So here are a few tips for Americans celebrating Easter in Australia.

*Easter is a long weekend here.  Everything is closed on Good Friday.  And for good measure  Aussies take Monday off too.  This year, Anzac day is on Monday.  So Tuesday is a public holiday, too.

*Little kids (generally Kindy and Year 1) will have Easter hat parades at school.  You will be expected to supply a variety of arts and crafts items to decorate the crazy hats.  After the Little Princess' parade they sang a few songs, including "Aussie Easter Oi Oi Oi" and "Disco Inferno".  (The musical selections at these school functions always baffle me).

*The Easter Show has nothing to do with Easter, other than they both come at the same time of year.

*Little girls will not be dressed up in fancy new dresses on Easter Sunday.  In fact the whole "Easter Dress" concept is unheard of here.  We got lots of strange looks that first year when we went out to breakfast.

*Aussies don't dye hard boiled eggs.  If you want one of those PAAS kits with the little coloured tablets you better have someone send one from the US.  And, there are no white eggs to speak of here.  But fortunately, brown eggs work just fine.

*Sadly, Easter is a secular holiday here.  Everyone celebrates Easter, but there is hardly a mention of Jesus. 

Two hard at work.  One supervising.
So tonight, on this night before Easter, we dyed our brown eggs and watched the Veggie Tales Easter Carol.  We talked about the true meaning of Easter and left a carrot out for the Easter Bunny.  Tomorrow there will be a treasure hunt and lots of choco eggs too.  We'll go to church and the Easter Show.  We're a little bit Aussie, and American too.

Happy Easter, Oi Oi Oi!


Jesica said...

The Brits have the same concept of Easter eggs. We're here in the States this year for Easter and my husband was asking me if we have Easter eggs and I'm like there's plenty of eggs why are you so worried about it? It took me awhile to figure out that he was making sure we had the chocolate eggs!

Kristi said...

us too...aussie american. i hide chocolate eggs and an easter basket. michael and i were talking about how nobody goes to brunch here and gets dressed up. it feels more like thanksgiving with bunnies instead of the nutcracker.

ps. you babe is getting so big.

Enslins Down Under said...

As a fellow American down under I have been overwhelmed with all the chocolate eggs. Who hides chocolate eggs they just melt. I was able to find some plastic eggs at the reject store and some Easter egg shaped chalk. Ironically you cannot bring Easter eggs because of the chocolate and allergies. So much for the catholic schooling. The plastic eggs are so much nicer when you have kids with allergies.

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