Just over a year ago I made a confession. I’m a chocoholic. Do you remember? I talked about how I just can’t resist chocolate. How it doesn’t last long once I’ve bought it. And how I was putting on a bit of weight after buying and eating too much of it.
Well, things have changed since then. A lot.
As I write, it’s Easter in a lot of places in the world. In Romania, where I am at the moment, it’s Easter next Sunday, 19th April, because they are Orthodox Christians here. At least, approximately 80% of them are. In Russia most people are Orthodox too.
I was very confused the first year I spent in Moscow. For me, Easter is (was) about chocolate Easter eggs and chocolate rabbits. I didn’t come from a religious family, although I did go to Sunday school sometimes as a young child.
Easter was also about holidays. Days off work or school. Yay!
Easter in Australia
In Australia, the weekend of Easter is a long one. Good Friday is a public holiday, along with the following Monday. So, it’s a four day weekend.
Four days off, and chocolate. A great combination.
And, chocolate is in abundance in Australian homes at Easter! When we were kids, I think we got just a couple of eggs, and maybe a chocolate rabbit or a little box of chocolates.
When my daughter was young, she got mountains of chocolates at Easter. I think I was compensating for being a working mum. Probably over-compensating if truth be told. She got a lot of chocolate at Easter.
Plus, as you’ll have read in my confession of last year, I used to eat tons of chocolate at Easter. It was one of my favourite times of the year.
Easter in Russia
So you can imagine my surprise, my first year in Moscow, when Easter seemed to come and go without a murmur.
No public holidays.
I saw nothing that indicated that it was Easter.
OK, maybe I wasn’t really ‘looking’, but I didn’t see rows and rows of shelves of chocolate eggs and rabbits in the supermarket.
Not at all.
The chocolate aisle didn’t change. Just the normal, regular chocolate.
It wasn’t until later that I understood that the Easter traditions and culture in Russia is very different from those in Australia.
Chocolate almost doesn’t feature at all during this celebration. Russian families paint real, hard-boiled eggs at home, and on Easter Saturday, they take them to the church to be blessed.
And do you know what? The kids in Russia don’t even seem to know that they’re missing out on mountains of chocolate eggs!
They eat the hard-boiled Easter eggs, and they enjoy the whole process from painting them to eating them. It’s a family activity, everyone’s involved.
In the last few years, though, I’ve seen more and more chocolate Easter products creeping onto the supermarket shelves in Russia, so maybe Western culture is starting to take over.
Easter in Romania
Because it’s not Easter in Romania yet (next weekend), I don’t really know much about the traditions here. Being Orthodox, maybe they’ll have some similar traditions to Russians.
However, I’ve already seen that there are a lot more chocolate eggs and rabbits in the supermarkets here than in Moscow. So maybe they’re already closer to celebrating Easter with chocolate than people in Russia are.
Now, let me tell you about my chocolate (and sugar) experience since arriving in Bucharest three weeks ago.
During the rush on the final day in our Moscow flat, I packed an almost empty box of chocolates that were in the kitchen into my suitcase. There was no way I was leaving them behind!
It was a box of ‘Merci’ chocolates. Do you know them? They are delicious! (Thank you to Olivier’s students!)
There were about five or six left, so I shoved the box into the outside pocket of my suitcase.
Once in Bucharest, they lasted about two days. Which was pretty good considering my addiction. But I tried not to eat them all at once. I didn’t know what the chocolate situation was like in Bucharest.
Giving it up
Two days after arriving in Bucharest we found ourselves locked down, so I decided to try and use this time to improve my general health. I’m not unhealthy, but I thought it might be a good idea to cut down on sugar anyway – and chocolate.
Then, during that first week, I serendipitously found myself reading this blog post by Janet Givens (there’s also a part 2, look for it), and it was enough to give me the motivation to seriously make an effort (thanks Janet!).
So, since then, I haven’t bought any sweets or chocolate. I have had some small vanilla ‘puddings’, to help me with the task of giving up refined sugar.
I know, it’s not really ‘giving up’ if I’m still eating pudding, but I haven’t eaten any sweets (lollies/candy) or chocolates in more than two weeks, and that’s probably a record for me. I’ve got two puddings left. I’m not going to buy any more when they’re gone.
I’ve been eating fruit, and we have natural honey for when I really need something sweet. But white, refined sugar and chocolate are no longer ‘available’ to me.
However, when we’re in the supermarket, and I walk past the Easter eggs and chocolate rabbits, I almost start shaking. I almost give in and tell myself ‘just a small one’.
But no. I’m stronger than that.
I’m going to try and continue depriving myself of chocolate and refined, white sugar, because you and I know that they’re really bad for our health. And right now, if not before, we all need to keep our immune systems in tip top shape.
And that’s why, this year, for me anyway, it’s an Easter without chocolate.
By the way, I’ve also lost the couple of extra kilos I was carrying, and the little roll of fat around my stomach has gone too.
Are you working on improving your health in some way? Are you succeeding? Where do you get the motivation? Let me know how you’re managing!