Our eggs-pat Easter in a Muslim country

Celebrating a Christian holiday such as Easter in the UAE, where the laws, shopping malls and work schedules are governed by Islam, is a rather different experience.

Of course the supermarkets stock plenty of chocolate eggs, but if you wanted to host an Easter feast, with forbidden holiday sundry such as chunks of ham and champagne, you’d have to put a bit more thought into it.

Our Easter involved nothing as lavish as this. The Little Boy (LB) decorated some hard-boiled eggs at nursery – I didn’t get to see them, as by the time I’d got home from work, the Big Boy (BB) had eaten them.

Since Easter Sunday is a regular work day here and the start of a new school term for many kids, lots of expats pretend it’s Easter on Good Friday (the first day of the weekend). Another difference is that it’s distinctly unspring-like. Being north of the equator, it is technically spring in the Middle East, but the temperature has been rising for the past few weeks, reaching a rather sticky 38°C (90°F) – and it’s only going to get worse. So rather than being full of the joys of spring and life bursting forth, it’s more like life about to get scorched under the hottest sun on earth. The warm weather means outdoor Easter egg hunts are a rather hurried affair, before the eggs melt into chocolate milk puddles and the children might as well go round with straws rather than baskets.

The bunny brought breakfast

We went off in search of the Easter bunny on Friday and found him at an Easter buffet at the golf course (must have been sweating like mad in his bunny suit). To get there, we took the off-road route across the desert and came across a couple of guys trying to dig their car out of the sand. The wheels of their Landcruiser had sunk so deep into the soft sand, there was little we could do to help other than give one of them a lift back to our compound so he could pick up their other car – a Hummer – to attempt to drag the SUV out. Embarrassingly, BB reacted to their misfortune with utter glee – the excitement was probably the highlight of his evening, better than the face painting, bouncy castle and entertainers at our Easter celebration.

Lots of kids were kept home from school today, Easter Sunday – BB, in fact, has another week of holiday anyway. We spent the day keeping cool in the water at one of the local beach clubs, which means tomorrow we’ll probably be nursing sunburn as well as a chocolate hangover. BB is actually a bit confused about Easter and has been busy hiding eggs for the Easter bunny to find. He has, however, decided that the Easter bunny is his favourite animal, above cats, dogs and even snakes.