Playboy Bunnies, Bells, and Plastic Eggs: Welcome to Easter in Bangkok

EggHunt2013 CreativeCommons by me

I am finally getting into the swing of things when it comes to celebrating holidays with the kids. We have so many of them when you consider our French, American and Mexican heritages. And now, on top of a social calendar rivaling page 6 socialistas, we  are immersed in all the Asian holidays as well.  At times it feels like a never-ending party to plan.

This weekend, a mere fortnight before the big Songkran or Thai New Year, expats everywhere were on the hunt for Easter booty. Decent quality chocolate eggs and bunnies are not abundant and poor quality treats of the Cadbury cream egg/ Marshmallow Peeps gendre even less so; a fascinating post on the history of peeps here.

Worried that a jam-packed schedule would limit my pre-Easter egg shopping, I decided to sign up my two little banshees for an organized egg hunt in a lovely green garden at the back of a posh hotel. The sign-up fee was to go to a worthy charity; it all sounded like a lovely idea.

With a ten a.m. start time delayed and hords of kids crowding two tiny start lines under the tropical sun, it dawned on me that prancing about a lush green garden collecting eggs was not a such a brilliant plan after all.

Little red riding hood finally made it –Yes, I too have no idea what she has to do with Easter, the basket maybe?– to lead the under fives to their egg area. I was extra grateful since it interrupted the conversation had just started taking place. The organizers were explaining how the bells [Les Cloches] had come through the garden to leave the eggs. I had completely forgotten that the French don’t have a lapin de Pâques. Instead, they tell children that while they are in Church on Easter Sunday, the bells, which have been silent since the thursday night to ensure they don’t ring during the mourning of Christ, return from Rome delivering chocolate eggs as they pass through town.

Le voyage des cloches à Rome gravure de Granville

I hoped P&C didn’t register this new story. We were firmly established as a bunny family and I dreaded the tales I’d have to weave to reconcile the various versions while suffering from heat exhaustion. My kids, stressed from  fidgeting in the sun, with sweat pouring down their faces, soon forgot the morning chaos and ran off ready to fill their makeshift egg baskets.

C's bag CC by me.
P bag by me via instagram

The eggs they were collecting were plastic. There were also large numbers of plastic fish strewn about. I never worked out if this was due to a lack of sufficient plastic eggs or some sort of French Christian thing. P definitely demonstrated the spirit of the day by running around finding kids with less eggs and filling their baskets with her own. Like me no doubt, she will always have an empty bank account.

P&friendegghunt2013 CC by me

P sharing eggs.

In the end, P’s generosity was neither penalized nor rewarded as every kid handed in their plastic booty to be swapped for a small bag of chocolate eggs straight out of a cooler. The rest of the morning was spent paying obscene amounts for drinks at the hotel bar while avoiding a sea of kids running around with melted chocolate all over their faces and hands -now I understood the reasoning behind the plastic egg. I feel that Songkran, a holiday where people douse each other in water, should be merged with Easter so we can hose down all the kids next year thereby cooling everyone off and washing away all the excess chocolate. Now that’s a little Euro-Asian fusion I can get behind.

A few hours later, P and I hopped into a cab.  As we settled on the nice cool vinyl seats, P asked me what the bunny stickers on all the windows said. I am never entirely sure what to make of cabs plastered in these. I don’t usually like to fib and always try to give honest and realistic answers -apart from the classics like Santa Clause, Bunny, and the tooth fairy. Today,  however, I had an easy answer:


“It’s the Easter Bunny and he is saying Happy Easter”. How grateful am I that my kid isn’t an early reader…

The Advent Calendar: Cardboard Windows, Mediocre Chocolates and the Christmas Countdown.

advent-calendar-little-angels via

Turns out, as I sit here, fingers poised, waiting until the last possible second to get this post written, it dawns on me that the advent calendar tradition never really was that much of a tradition in my house. That said, I do have this wonderful childhood memory of occasionally having these. What I remember loving most, were the calendars my mother bought that featured a dense Yuletide tableau. I could spend hours staring at the little scenes depicted, transporting myself to a world more colourful and exciting than mine ever seemed to be, all while hunting for the right number and my chocolate treat, knowing that this gesture was bringing me ever closer to my favorite holiday.

The other anticipation I recall enjoying was not knowing what the chocolate would look like; would it be a teddy bear? A christmas stocking? Of course by the 24th, you could be sure that upon opening the last cardboard flap, you would find yourself, face to face, with Santa…well not Santa per se but a tiny chocolate reproduction of him. This foretold the arrival of the real Santa, hopefully ladened with toy-booty, most of which would hopefully be tagged with my name.

The truth is that the chocolate advent calendar was mostly a torturous time. Early on, I was so so so desperate for my chocolate each day, it actually hurt. As I got older, I would succumb to my naughty urges and ‘eat ahead’. This would be followed by my wallowing in guilt, with the horrifying knowledge that I had zero self-control. So of course, why wouldn’t I share this ‘wonderful’ tradition with my kids?

As it turns out, I had in fact completely blocked out the memory of the advent calendar, that is  until I came across one in a Singaporean supermarket. Surrounded by tropical jungle and intense sunshine, I needed every bit of help I could get my hands on to help me into the Christmas spirit. I bought two of these, one for my three-year-old and one for my husband. The baby was too young and I had numerous public trysts with Starbucks chocolate molten cakes under my belt to warrant any additional sweets. Of course the SGD30 price-tag helped encourage moderation.

The plain-jane picture should have raised the first red flag. The confirmation of a complete waste of money award was the lack of attention my husband paid to the calendar after eating December 1st.  This is a man who *must* have something sweet after dinner and went to bed ‘without’ for a month.

I vowed never again. And then, the next tropical Christmas arrived, and my fingers twitched, reaching out for yet another over priced Advent Calendar, this time in a Bangkok market. I held off, barely, and vowed to make my own. One Ikea shopping trip later, I had my cardboard Santa and 24 small drawers to fill with goodies for my two little elves.

For the price of a reusable Santa and all the goodies —a selection of jelly beans, stickers, hair-clips and some chocolate coins— I still spent less than one of those rubbish imported store calendars. More importantly, the experience was intensely personal and I felt a great sense of satisfaction, which is pretty ridiculous since all I did was unwrap little items and re-package them in the pre-made drawers.

 Advent2012 cc CNdR

Maybe next year, I’ll take it up a notch and go the Danish route, preparing a ‘packet calendar’. I was fortunate enough to have one made for me in a previous life: twenty-four little packages tied along a string, hanging down. It was like having a touch of Christmas every day, which is the point really…

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Yule, Saint Nick and Sadeh. And let us never forget: a Festivus for the rest of us.