Celebrating Easter: Retail Advertising, Religious Advertising and Egg Hunts
The last month to two weeks prior to the April 24, 2011, was a very busy time at work. The four-day compressed work week was due to the Easter Holiday, and meant having either Good Friday or Monday the 25th off. The advertising peak for Easter meant brisk business, but Easter also a pleasant weekend for people engaged in social activities such as Easter egg hunts, chocolate gift exchanges and mini-vacations for spring (U.S. and Canada) or summer (Philippines). For many, the Easter weekend marked a central religious observance: the culmination of Holy Week.
In retail advertising, the target audience is a secular public that enjoys Easter as a social event, essentially devoid of any religious overtones. Generally acceptable images include elements such as Easter eggs, bunnies, baskets, chicks, chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, Easter lilies, tulips, etc.—all gaily decorated in spring and pastel colors. It was interesting to note cultural differences with countries like France where, instead of an Easter bunny; an Easter bell flew in from Rome and brought the eggs and chocolates for the children.
Retail advertising for Easter cut across different product types: automotive ads incorporated Easter egg themes; some even had illustrations of dealers dressed in bunny suits. Real estate ads featured "Happy Easter" greetings in informal fonts and retail stores announced Easter Sunday discounts and promotions festooned with eggs, bunny rabbits or tulips as borders. In keeping with the Easter theme, spring colors (yellow-green, lemon yellow, white, and sky blue) and a few shades associated with Easter (pastels, lavender, baby pink and baby blue) often brightened ads and called attention to key elements.
In religious advertising, the target audience is a non-secular public that observes a central tenet of their faith—the celebration of the risen Christ. Included are images of Jesus, white doves, baby lambs, Easter chicks, crosses, Easter lilies, tulips, and the prevalence of purple.
In the stained glass example of religious Easter art shown, all the elements combined were symbolic of the Resurrection. The beams of light emanating from the cross, white doves, Easter lilies, fig and grapevines interspersed with bright blue shades of daylight on Easter morning communicate the celebration of a new spiritual life.
For Holy Week services, choices of elegant font styles combined with matching Lenten colors and touches of lilies show the use of restraint and a respect for religious observances, which often helps secure the advertisers' approvals.
That's about work. How did I celebrate Easter?
For me, Easter has always associated with happy memories of Easter egg hunts. The best times were when the kids were still young enough to enjoy and look forward to them. When we shared the tradition with other friends and relatives in our college years, the adults couldn't wait to be designated egg hiders, too!
Depending on where we spent Easter, we joined Easter egg hunts sponsored by country clubs, hotels, malls or villages. It was so much fun testing how clever we were in competition with other kids and their adult helpers. It became a race to see who would find the most! Those moments were FUN! But the Easter egg hunts we held at home were unforgettable.
We've tried hiding several kinds of eggs throughout the years—large, beautifully decorated sugar-candy eggs wrapped in plastic and filled with candy bits, colorful plastic eggs with mini-prizes inside, chocolate eggs that melted in the afternoon sun (oops!), and gaily hand-painted hard-boiled eggs. The kids loved the surprises we prepared and enjoyed the variety, but painting their own eggs brought the most satisfaction. Each egg allowed the children to express such creativity, ranging from the traditional lines, spots and zigzags, to the more unconventional objects and characters from internet exposure.
After Easter mass with their own families, the kids came to decorate their eggs. We provided them with watercolor for washes, poster color for solids, mopits (Chinese brushes), clean water in plastic bowls, glue and glitters, sequins and ribbons (messy fun!), newspapers, and toilet rolls cut in half for egg stands.
When their masterpieces were done and dried, adult egg hiders were given 20-30 minutes to find creative places to keep the search interesting. Since it was an annual event, the kids had grown wise to the easiest hiding places, and the younger children were often "helped" by wily adults (who were sometimes even MORE competitive than the kids!).
The early part of the afternoon was spent hunting eggs in a designated "safe" area—we would alternate between our garden and pond or cross over to our grandparent's adjoining house to invade their garden and grotto with the huge duhat tree, or when the weather was overcast that year, we made do with the living room area.
Some eggs were easy to hide. The kids learned to decorate not only with bright pastel colors, but with camouflage colors because they realized this made finding the eggs more challenging! Hiders with their lists shouted, "hot!" or "cold!" to give the kids clues to egg locations.
One of the most ingeniously hidden eggs in years was an egg submerged in the fish pond. The egg was kept dry inside a plastic bag and tied to a heavy rock to keep it floating just below the surface. The kid who finally spotted it needed help to "fish it out," and unsurprisingly, won the prize for finding the most eggs at the end of the day!
Another memorable egg hider hid two eggs on opposite sides of the same goose nest hidden with artfully arranged twigs on the ground to fool the kids into thinking there was only one egg to find.
We handed out prizes for best decorated egg, best egg hunter, and an early bird award. Everyone received a token prize—a mix of candied eggs, chocolate bunnies, cash prizes, chocolate coins wrapped in golden tinfoil and mini toys—which kept all the children and adults engaged.
But that's not all. In the early evening after the egg hunt, we gathered all the eggs we found, even the ones that were crushed and broken. We washed off the dirt, the smeared paint, the glued decorations, then peeled the broken shells to make deviled eggs—waste not, want not. With the children helping, preparations went quickly, and we all sat down to a happy Easter dinner afterward.
Those were some of the precious childhood memories we gave our kids to fill their hearts with warmth and love as they grew up and, hopefully, this tradition will be passed on to their own kids in later years.
I was tickled pink when, just before Easter Sunday this year, my youngest sister texted to ask for my deviled egg recipe. When I told my husband about it, he was hounding me to make some for him, too. As if! We were going on a family trip that weekend to eat at Dagupeña Restaurant in Calasiao, Dagupan, which was bangus (milkfish) central in Luzon. Where was I going to find the time to make him deviled eggs?
Instead, I surprised him by arranging to meet up with my sister, who made us an extra batch. We gave her some of the famous Calasiao puto at kutsinta (mini-glutinous rice cakes) as pasalubong (a gift from an out-of-town trip). The eggs were an excellent excuse to get together with our loved ones on a cool and windy Easter evening.
To date, despite discovering that my recipe was simply garlic-mayo egg salad—rather than a proper deviled egg (eggs mimosa) recipe of mayo and mustard sprinkled with cayenne pepper and topped with black olives—both my sister and my husband still preferred to eat deviled eggs my way.