Our Christmas tree was still standing in the living room. The Christmas cards we’d received were still hanging over the doorway. There were even mince pies and some Spanish turron in the fridge. It was the second of January, 2019 and already there were hot cross buns and chocolate Easter eggs in the supermarket. How do you guys feel about that?
This is how it makes me feel – uncomfortable, disappointed, irritated and sad. There is a time and a place for everything. By placing celebratory food in our supermarkets at a time of year that is inappropriate makes a mockery of even having the special food in the first place. Rituals and ceremonies can be healing and uplifting, especially when they are celebrated at the right moment in the right space. According to Wikipedia, the Hot Cross Bun originates from St Albans where a 14th Century monk at St Albans Abbey distributed a bun with a cross marked on it to the local poor on Good Friday, starting in 1361. You notice he did this on Good Friday, when it actually meant something to the people, not on the second of January!
If we allow the big companies to place celebratory food items in our supermarkets in January, where is the joy when Easter comes around in April? We’ve been stuffing our faces with hot cross buns for four months! So, if I were to write to Coles and state my objection, they would probably write back to me with this:
Dear Ms Compton. Thank you for your email. We understand your concern, however, over the years we have found that our consumers are happy to purchase the hot cross buns and Easter eggs in January. For this reason, we shall continue to stock the shelves with these items.
Yours sincerely, Central Management.
Just because consumers buy the food, doesn’t mean it’s right. I lived in Spain for twelve years. When there were special religious celebrations, we could only buy certain foods in the local bakeries and supermarkets for about a two week period. It was wonderful! There was a joy and an appreciation for that celebratory food that you knew would soon be unavailable. I’m thinking particularly of the period around the first of November each year, Dia de Todos Los Santos (our Halloween) when you could purchase from the local bakery these delicious cream puff type desserts called puñuelos. They were filled with either fresh cream, chocolate cream or custard. Just knowing that you only had them for a limited time was marvelous. It was a bit like the feeling you get at autumn when you see the first orange and red maple leaves on the trees and it fills you with wonder and delight or the first Jacaranda blossoms at the beginning of spring. Or what about when you see and taste the first mangoes at the beginning of summer? Our spirit soars because we know that this manifestation of nature is only here for a short time and we appreciate it whole heartedly for that reason.
As if our life isn’t mundane and controlled enough in our culture without the supermarkets ruining our only other cultural celebration, Easter. As a kid, I don’t remember seeing hot cross buns and chocolate Easter eggs in January, thank goodness. So, let me know your thoughts and just in case I haven’t made my point crystal clear, I choose to turn a blind eye to these foods until the moment is right, that is, Easter time. Let’s hope we don’t start seeing Christmas puddings and mince pies in August!