Are Twigs & Baubles the New ‘Easter Essentials’?
Have you noticed how Easter is changing? I don’t mean the religious festival of Easter, but the domestic one, that time of year when people take a few days off work, spend time with family, and eat chocolate.
This year in Sydney, I am seeing home retailers promoting Easter with more than just chocolate.
Shoppers can now buy:
- Fake tree-like twigs on which to hang baubles designed to look like painted Easter eggs.
- Pastel-coloured bunny-themed dinner sets, for kids – and grown-ups.
- Faux rustic artefacts, with not a piece of chocolate in sight.
So what is going on?
Lynne Freeman and I are fascinated by consumer rituals and rites and have spent some time studying them. Here are some of our early thoughts.
Grooming the home
First of all, this is a ‘home grooming ritual’. Most of us have personal grooming rituals like the sequence of actions we take in the mornings before we feel ready to leave the house. Home grooming is the same idea and the word ‘ready’ is crucial. By decorating the house in an ‘Easter’ way, we are getting ourselves ‘ready’ for Easter.
It’s just like at Christmas: it would not feel like Christmas if we hadn’t put up the Christmas tree, and decorated the house with baubles and tinsel. Remember how the feeling of Christmas starts to emerge as we put the tree up, sort out the good baubles from the broken ones, and place the wreath on the front door? All these symbols create so many sensory memories too – the green and red decorations, the smell of the Christmas tree...
Did I mention wreaths? In parts of the US, according that trusty source Good Housekeeping, one of their Easter traditions is to hang a wreath on the door.
“It's just not Easter until a cute wreath debuts on your door.” (Good Housekeeping US)
Wreaths are not yet an ‘Easter essential’ here but mark my words....
What are the essentials you need for making Easter meaningful?
If you have visitors for Easter, how can you make it a meaningful and memorable time for them? People who don’t celebrate Easter as a religious festival might question what Easter is actually all about and wonder what is the ‘right’ way to spend the time? Retailers too may feel some uncertainty.
One way to create an Easter atmosphere is to display things that you have bought or made. But what is an Easter atmosphere? According to the retailers who are promoting Easter, it seems there are two.
An atmosphere of innocent play
Easter has always been ‘kids’ time’. It’s a time when kids - and adults-being-kids - are allowed things that were forbidden during the year, or at least in such quantities, especially chocolate and all the goodies in the Show Bags at Sydney’s Easter Show.
We can go a step further, by buying twigs and baubles and bunny-shaped egg cups that seem to have come from some Victorian-era English nursery. They help turn Easter into a time of nostalgia for an old fashioned childhood. Displaying them creates a symbolic ‘reminder’ of the simpler times represented by Peter Rabbit and friends, a time of innocent play. Since the tumultuous events of 2016, perhaps we yearn for such simpler times?
An atmosphere of family togetherness
Did you know by that you can buy Easter crackers (Bonbons)? People use little products like these to create a feeling of togetherness. Table centrepieces and crockery can perform the symbolic bonding role too. If family and friends sit down around a table featuring an Easter-themed centrepiece, and eat from plates decorated with eggs and bunnies, would they instinctively feel closer to the people round the table because they are sharing a symbolic experience? My answer would be yes.