Irish Easter Eggs

two boxes of cadbury eggs for easterMaybe it’s just me and my yankee upbringings, but Easter Eggs were actually real eggs when I was a kid.

We would have an exciting egg-decorating session with little dye kits and paints on Easter week. Those decorated (and hard-boiled, I should add) eggs would be stashed in the fridge a day or so before easter and then the easter bunny would come Easter Sunday while we were at mass. We would return home to find our dozens of decorated eggs hidden in improbable places throughout the garden and we would delightedly find a few candy-filled plastic eggs and an easter basket for each of us hidden somewhere as well.

This description of easter celebrations registers amazed disbelief on the part of local Irish people.

“Would the shops have little kits called ‘egg-dying kits,’ would they??!” I get asked.

You see, here in Ireland Easter and the associated Egg is a different kettle of fish altogether.

First off, we had a devil of a time searching shops for egg decoration kits our first Easter in Ireland. They don’t exist, you see. Even if you were to find such a thing, Irish eggs are, as a rule, brown. Not the chemically bleached white of US eggs, but good, solid, our-hens-eat-what-they-can-catch-in-the-yard Irish egg brown. You’d have a devil of a time dying the brown anything but a darker brown I think.

There is no easter egg hunt tradition in Ireland, apparently. Easter follows lent – the time of fasting and abstinence – when Easter Sunday rolls around Irish people who have been avoiding anything that tastes good for 40 days and 40 nights go crazy for chocolate. There is also a scarcity of chocolate bunnies in Ireland (something very common at home). The Easter chocolate in ireland is egg-shaped. Usually hollow (to our great disappointment the first time we bought one) and gigantic in scale.

a display of chocolate Irish easter eggs in a local shopThe shelves of local shops literally overflow with chocolate eggs in the weeks prior to Easter. Every sweet manufacturer and chocolatier is in on the madness – you can get snickers eggs, kit-kat eggs, your-favourite-soccer-team eggs, After 8 mints eggs . . . if there is a type of chocolate bar out there, it probably has an egg equivilent.

Another interesting thing here is that Cadbury’s cream eggs are available YEAR-ROUND! In the states, you can only get them on Easter but here in Ireland they sit on the shelves year-round and then appear in much larger size for Easter.

And yes, I checked – the giant cadbury cream eggs are not actually giant cream eggs; they’re giant hollow chocolate shells sometimes with regular-sized cream eggs inside them.