A move in Britain to rebrand a national Easter egg hunt as simply an “egg hunt” to appeal to non-Christian children has drawn condemnation from the Church of England and Prime Minister Theresa May.
“This marketing campaign … highlights the folly in airbrushing faith from Easter,” said a statement from the Church of England sent to The Washington Post. A church spokeswoman told The Post that senior church leaders vehemently opposed the change.
Some 300,000 children are expected to attend this year’s hunt, held at 250 sites owned by the National Trust, a charity that promotes conservation. It partners with Cadbury, the maker of the chocolate eggs for the hunt.
“The National Trust is in no way downplaying the significance of Easter,” a spokesman told the Telegraph, placing the rebranding squarely on the shoulders of Cadbury, “who are responsible for the branding and wording of our egg hunt campaign.”
The prime minister, a member of the National Trust, decried the rebranding during a trip to Jordan. Last year’s event was dubbed the “Easter Egg Trail.” This year’s event is simply the “Great British Egg Hunt” — sans Easter.
“I think what the National Trust is doing is frankly just ridiculous,” May told ITV News. “Easter’s very important. It’s important to me, it’s a very important festival for the Christian faith for millions across the world.”
Although the word “Easter” doesn’t appear in event ads, it’s prominent on Cadbury’s website, which beckons customers to “Enjoy Easter Fun” at the “egg hunt.”
“We invite people from all faiths and none to enjoy our seasonal treats,” Cadbury said in a statement.
After the stinging criticism from church officials and the prime minister, the National Trust on Tuesday quietly added the word “Easter” to its Web page describing the egg hunt.
Accounts vary as to how eggs became tied to Easter traditions. Some historians say the egg was considered a symbol of new life, a view dating to ancient times and non-Christians. Others say the eggs symbolize Christian belief that Jesus was resurrected from his tomb, which is celebrated on Easter.
In addition, some Christians avoid dairy products and eggs during Lent, so they became a decorative focal point at Easter.
Archbishop John Sentamu of York said Cadbury’s rebranding effort insults the memory of the chocolate maker’s founder, John Cadbury, who was a Quaker.
“To drop Easter from Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt in my book is tantamount to spitting on the grave of Cadbury,” Sentamu said in a statement provided to The Post by the Church of England.
Maybe not, said Esther McConnell, a descendant of Cadbury, who posted a note on Twitter directed at the archbishop: “I’m sure John Cadbury (my g.g.g.g. grandfather) is not spinning in his grave. As a Quaker, he didn’t celebrate Easter.”
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