Chocolate maker Cadbury has dropped the word “Easter” from a sponsored egg hunt event in Britain this week. Critics say the move is to appease Muslims and non-Christians who find the “Easter” reference offensive.
Contrary to some reports, Cadbury has not dropped Easter references entirely. They are still used on a number of products, and the holiday is mentioned in their social media. Beginning last year, however, the British company began to offer more “secularized” products without the “Easter” reference. “Easter” is still widely used on Cadbury’s products in America.
Cadbury all but admitted their motivation for the decision when they released a statement saying “We invite people from all faiths and none to enjoy our seasonal treats.”
With Britain and much of Europe seeing a surge in their Muslim populations, some say the move is to appease that culture group. Christianity itself has been in steep decline in Britain in recent years, despite the long history and tradition.
The event, which has been around for a decade and has been known as the Easter Egg Trail, is co-sponsored with the National Trust, a conservation charity. It sends hundreds of thousands of children hunting for Easter eggs on historic properties across the country on Easter weekend.
The decision was considered such an affront to traditionalists that none less than the archbishop of York and Prime Minister Theresa May intervened to express dismay.
The archbishop, John Sentamu, lamented that omitting an explicit Easter reference was akin to “spitting on the grave” of John Cadbury, a Quaker who founded the company, which initially sold cocoa and drinking chocolate, in Birmingham in 1824.
“If people visited Birmingham today in the Cadbury World they will discover how Cadbury’s Christian faith influenced his industrial output,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “He built houses for all his workers, he built a church, he made provision for schools. It is obvious that for him Jesus and justice were two sides of the one coin.”
Mrs. May was sufficiently irritated by the decision to omit the word “Easter” that she interrupted a trip in the Middle East to weigh in on the debate.
“I’m not just a vicar’s daughter — I’m a member of the National Trust as well,” she told ITV. “I think the stance they have taken is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t know what they are thinking about, frankly. Easter’s very important. It’s important to me, it’s a very important festival for the Christian faith for millions across the world.”
Cadbury said in a statement that it was “simply not true to claim that we have removed the word ‘Easter’ from our marketing and communication materials.” Preaching a message of inclusiveness, it added, “We invite people from all faiths and none to enjoy our seasonal treats.”
The National Trust said any suggestion it was playing down the significance of Easter was “nonsense.” “A casual glance at our website will see dozens of references to Easter throughout,” it said in a statement.
The culture war over Easter comes after Britain triggered the start of its negotiations to leave the European Union and as it has become consumed by a debate over national identity while it struggles to find a place in a globalized world.
The Church of England — with its titular head, the monarch — has been at the core of national identity dating to the 16th century. But immigration, multiculturalism and intensifying secularism have helped to diminish its sway.
Social commentator Peter York told the Times that there is a another factor at play besides catering to Muslims.
He emphasized, however, that, in his view, the desire to play down the religious aspect of the holiday was invariably motivated by one factor above all: Cadbury’s desire to sell more candy. Noting that Cadbury, a storied British company, was bought in 2010 for nearly $20 billion by Kraft Foods, now called Mondelez International, he added: “I blame the Americans for this, and some creepy globalist neoliberal, private-equity-driven motive aimed at not offending anyone who has a tuppence in their purse. I do rather wish Easter could still be called Easter.”