Making Easter Happen

Indeed, Statista sent around some fun numbers that give a peek into the psyche of this holiday:  when asked about Easter, 69% of Brits think about chocolate, but only 12% think about Jesus. Fully 80 million Easter eggs are sold annually in the UK, of which the average child consumes eight.  This act of excess comes to 8,000 calories, which Statista says are gobbled up over four days.  Before the eggs are handed to the kiddies, however, 27% of parents eat some themselves.  (Even though egg-stealing parents are a minority, I am relieved to know I am not alone.)  So now we know what Her Majesty’s subjects do during those four silent days:  they bounce off the walls from the sugar.

This much they have in common with their American cousins, however.  Statista says 16 billion jelly beans are produced for Easter in the United States.  I am a great lover of jelly beans, but that figure makes my teeth hurt.  Unlike their compadres across the sea, however, the children of Uncle Sam know Easter is about Jesus:  half of them will actually pitch up and go to church today.  Of course, they go in part to show off their Easter threads. Americans spend much more on Easter than their British buds.  The difference is in the clothes.

Americans spiff for this particular holiday.  If you don’t know that, then you obviously have never seen Easter Parade, a 1948 film with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire that

some Americans will watch ritually this weekend, just as many watch It’s A Wonderful Life annually at Christmas. “In Your Easter Bonnet,” the musical finale, shows Fred and Judy promenading in their finery in front of the church.  In my childhood, showing off your outfit like this was as much part of the holiday as the egg hunt.  (Sorry for the Google ads that frame this clip—everything in America comes with an ad, including religious holidays, but this online intrusion is a global scourge.)

In all, 80% of Americans celebrate Easter, either by going to church or by ritual retail observance.  (Another interesting fact is that the citizens of the United States, who can hardly agree on anything these days, come together on the right way to eat a chocolate rabbit.  “Ears first” is the resounding judgement of 89%. Whether the bunny should be solid or hollow is another cultural divide.)

As a mom, my favorite part of Easter was getting the girls their dresses, shoes, socks, hair bows, and shoes. Was I playing with them like dolls? Well, yes. Sorry. You can see that they learned to pose for the camera. Liza (right) wasn’t as good at it yet. Later, she was a master of the photo opp. Still is.

However, these folks will not be taking off from work.  Americans no longer get either Good Friday or Easter Monday as a holiday (when I was a kid, we got both).  So, this year as every year, I am savoring the irony that my overly religious homeland will keep the economic fires going through the weekend while the avid secularists of my adopted country observe Easter.  

So, what is the connection to women’s economics?  In both countries (as everywhere), the women do the shopping, especially for gifts, and are generally responsible for both holiday prep and religious rituals.  In other words, it’s the women—especially the mothers—who make Easter happen.  About $16 billion will be pumped into the US economy via this holiday behavior.  In the UK, the number is smaller (about £560 million), but the anticipated economic impact is no less significant:  the Telegraph is crowing about the positive news for retailers as an increase in Easter “footfall” contributes to the recent upward trend in the European economy.

Let’s just be clear here that this “footfall” is wearing pumps and ballet flats.  When we talk about increases in consumer confidence, what we really mean is that women are back to shopping.

So, I would like again to be the one who salutes those who remember, even when they don’t get a day off, that there is an effort that must be made to bring ritual light and joy to loved ones.  Happy Easter to all, but especially to those who orchestrated the moment.

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