There was some discussion this week about why the word `Easter’ was dropped from the packaging of seasonal chocolate eggs. It seems likely to me that confectionery companies simply want to encourage people to eat the Eggs all year round, not just at Easter. In a way that is quite sensible.
As a child, I often had half a dozen large chocolate eggs given to me at Easter and I did my utmost, like most English children, to eat them all on Easter Sunday. The results were predictable and lamentable.
The odd thing about the word `Easter’ itself, is that it likely relates to the ancient Northern European goddess Oestre who was symbolised by the rabbit or hare. The goddess faded into history but her name stubbornly persists and we still expect that the Easter bunny will bring us eggs.
The other event this weekend is, the often forgotten, changing- of- the -clocks. We finally have reached British Summer Time when the clocks go forward an hour. This means our mornings will be darker (but not so we’d notice) and our evenings lighter. It seems to come as something of a relief and I have often wondered why the clocks ever went back in first place.
Clocks did not really impose themselves on British life at all until the Industrial Revolution when the factories needed large numbers of people turning up on time. The other impetus was the expansion of the railway system in Britain which uncovered the strange fact that time in our small nation was not uniform, Oxford, for instance, was four minutes adrift of GMT and Bristol ten minutes. To science and engineering-loving Victorians this was arcane and intolerable. Railway Time was introduced by Great Western Railway in 1840 and uniformity across the country began, but was not uncompleted, until 1880.
New Zealander George Vernon Hudson proposed to change the clocks seasonally in 1895 in order to allow more productive daylight hours. This idea was taken up with enthusiasm by William Willett, Great-great-grandfather of Coldplay’s Chris Martin coincidentally.
There was some support for the idea but it finally became law in 1916 shortly after Germany adopted the same scheme.
The First World War was of course, the catalyst, as both governments were desperate to improve productivity and help to end the brutal stalemate in the trenches.
This was meant to be a temporary measure and there is often discussion of ending it, not least by those of us caught out each year and confused for hours at a time.
Happy Easter to everyone