What do you know about the origins of Easter? This, I ask the man behind the intricate edible artworks of famed Bangkok Mariott Resort & Spa pastry shop Numero Uno, executive pastry chef Bernd Opiela. I'm waiting for a fairytale concerning spring rites, goddesses and the moon, so I'm a little startled by his abrupt reply: "Forget about it and enjoy the chocolate!" How can anyone argue with that?
As sweet as they are, the innocent cartoony bunnies festooned all over the show at Easter have quite a dark and scandalous past. Care to take a closer peek at symbols of Easter?
- Ayutthaya Ancient Capital Tour with River Cruise
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Easter is in essence the result of many different converging traditions. The bunny dates back to pagan times when the universe was alight with mysterious forces, and the time following the dark and sterile winter was frantically embraced as the festival of Spring Rites. What this meant was that the earth returned to life and became fertile again - all of nature attested to the fact - and so humans thought to do the same. It was a time to multiply, and which animal most nimbly springs to mind? The rabbit, of course!
Well, it ran a bit deeper than that too... There was the Goddess of Dawn, Spring and Fertility and one of her names was Eostre. She had a consort, one of whose aspects was the regeneration of the lands. Seasonally he died and was resurrected much as in the harvest cycles. Spring rites would cheer on the process. The focal point of the festival, of course, was fertility and all the symbols point that way. At this point it all gets a bit garbled and in the Christian takeover, the idea of spiritual rebirth persists, but now in the guise of resurrection.
Food of the gods
The 'hot cross bun' originally depicted the horns of the sacrificial ox of the lunar goddess, and the cross symbolised the quarters of the lunar cycle. When the first Sunday after the vernal equinox was hijacked by the Christians and called Easter, the pagan symbols stayed, but meanings were altered. The gesture of giving Easter eggs away can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece, where duck and goose eggs were dyed red to symbolize the blood of life and offered to randy deities. From the ghastly to the sublime, the Easter egg evolved into its perfect manifestation - no, not the precious Faberge egg, but cast in chocolate!
Considering the Mayan and Aztec god-kings' high regard for the substance as an aphrodisiac, and all the connotations surrounding the festival, learning to make chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies could be a fun way to get in sync with the season.
'Chocoholics for Easter' will be held in the main lobby of Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa from 06:00 until midnight under the direction of chocolatier Opiela. Demonstrations on the making of chocolate Easter eggs, bunnies and breads, as well as other special festive treats such as savouries and roast lamb are some of the highlights. Don't forget to pop into Numero Uno for a French breaksfast - naturally the freshest place to indulge in a croissant and fragrant coffee. Behold the delightful sweet things and go pagan in appreciating the bounties of life.