Jesus-Themed Easter Eggs Fill Supermarket Shelves in UK

For the first time in the U.K., the real reason for the Easter season will be unveiled in local supermarkets across the country this year – faithfully packaged.

Launched by the Church of England, The Real Easter Egg, "a milk chocolate egg to celebrate the real meaning of Easter," is said to be the first and only Fairtrade egg to mention Jesus on the box.

Telling consumers that Easter is not "all about cute bunnies, fluffy chicks, and eating too much chocolate," the packaging reveals the true message that "Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday, then rose again three days later … on Easter Sunday."

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"Many believe that chocolate eggs represent the boulder that sealed [Jesus'] tomb. And with eggs being widely thought of as a symbol of hope and new life, the custom grew where people exchanged gifts of chocolate eggs at Easter."

Each sale made will benefit two charities, Baby Lifeline and Traidcraft Exchange, with proceeds going to purchase everything from medical equipment for new mothers in the U.K. to chickens for small-scale farmers in Africa and keeping true to the themes of hope and new life.

Hundreds of families in the U.K. will benefit as well as people who are employed to mold the eggs, deal with orders and deliver to churches, schools and stores.

Customers can "make a big chunk of difference," like the egg advertises.

The Right Rev. Nigel McCulloch, the Bishop of Manchester, launched the project last year and developed the egg through the Meaningful Chocolate Company, but not without initial opposition.

Patenting authorities questioned the meaning of Easter in relation to the egg and supermarkets were unsure of how a charity-faith egg would fare in their Easter aisles, despite the 80 million Easter eggs sold in the U.K. each year.

To prove the demand for The Real Easter Egg, a campaign was launched in September 2010, by the Church of England, asking churches, church schools, and individuals to place a direct mail order for The Real Easter Egg from October 2010 onwards.

An overwhelming number of orders – over 70,000 – were received, exhausting their supply of direct mail order eggs.

The campaign received international attention and was also backed by the Archbishop of York and other prominent church leaders.

Ten weeks after the launch, the egg became the U.K.'s top selling mail order egg and was stocked by leading retailers.

Morrison's, Waitrose, Co-op and Boots agreed to carry a limited supply of the sweets in their stores, while three other major chains, like Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda, remained unconvinced. (The eggs will also be available in a number of independent shops and cathedrals.)

Lawyers were also able to argue successfully that a link could in fact be made between Christianity, Easter and chocolate eggs, securing a patent to move the campaign forth.

David Marshall, spokesman for the bishop and part of The Real Easter Egg team, stated, "We are delighted that our customers have made The Real Easter Egg such a success. I think we have proven that people are not afraid to buy The Real Easter Egg and we hope we have changed the face of Easter forever."

The Rev. McCulloch remarked, "I believe there will be widespread support for the product from the faith community with many others likely to be interested."

"It is great news that for the first time people will have the chance of buying an Easter egg from a shop that explains the significance of the festival on the box."

The Real Easter Egg is thus boldly proclaiming the true meaning of Easter to every consumer in the midst of a growing antagonism to Christianity in the U.K., with Christians facing oppression under the new laws of equality and discrimination because of their open faith.

"Religious liberty," Dr. Massimo Introvigne, a religious expert, deduced in an interview with Dr. Gudrun Kugler, "includes freedom to worship inside a church but also the freedom to preach outside it."

And like the package preaches, "Just think … when you give someone The Real Easter Egg you're not just giving them a delicious chocolate treat, you're giving them something much more meaningful."

The Real Easter Egg, deemed a "tasty preaching tool" by THE DRUM, directs those who are curious about the true meaning of Easter to websites that explain Christianity, Easter, and Jesus' death and resurrection more thoroughly.

"The real test of a religion is whether in an age of aggressive secularism it has the confidence to go out and make its case by persuasion," expressed Former British prime minister Tony Blair in a former Telegraph article.

The Church of England and companies like the Meaningful Chocolate Company are "making their case" and demonstrating in the U.K. that Christianity is still relevant and fundamental in the new post-modern age.

The Real Easter Egg is spurring movement to bring the good news from the private pulpit to the public.

The 125g high quality Fairtrade milk chocolate egg is made with natural cocoa butter and contains no vegetable fat substitutes.

With demand expected to outstrip supply, Google Maps is providing the "Virtual Real Easter Egg hunter," allowing people to hunt for an independent shop or church in their area where they can purchase the egg.

On the Web:

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