Easter is a very important tradition at the Chateau de la Lalande! In our earliest years here it was naturally a big celebration because it marked the end of winter. And when living in a huge granite building with 150 year-old single-paned windows, that feels like a huge achievement. Also, I love chocolate. And yellow is my favourite colour. I was made for Easter!
So, all those years ago, we invited our friends to come and party with us. We didn’t realise then that we were laying the foundation of an unbreakable Lalande tradition. Every year since then, our friends have piled into the house, sometimes several to a room as we inevitably invite too many people and run out of space.
That ‘first’ Easter, we thought it would be fun to have a little costume party the night before Easter Sunday. We decided on ‘1001 Nights’. It wasn’t a huge party, our costumes weren’t particularly elaborate, but it was such fun. After three full years of renovations I finally felt that we were bringing the chateau back to life – not with septic tanks and electrics – but with laughter and friendship. These homes were made for large numbers of people!
The next day, we had an Easter egg hunt in the forest and a big Easter brunch.
The following year, everyone wanted to return, and to have another costume party. This time, we decided on Pirates! (The reason why has been lost in the mists of time). We all made a bit more effort with the themed decorations and the costumes – I sourced old, mismatched, silver plated goblets in charity shops, and squeezed myself into a corset as a Pirate Queen.
From then on, the costume parties at Easter have escalated BIG TIME. I think my favourite was ‘Geishas, Ninjas and Samurai’ – everyone looked AMAZING. And it was a great excuse to buy a kimono…
The start time for the Easter egg hunt the next day has gradually got later and later as the parties have got bigger! I think the first year it was 10am, but now we’ve learnt it’s futile to expect everyone to turn up before midday.
The biggest Easter controversy here is – to Onesie or not to Onesie? There are two rival camps. The Onesie Camp is led by Michael Potts (one of my two co-chatelains), whilst the Anti-Onesies are led by Kim (an old friend of mine and one of the ‘original Easter’ members).
But there’s one costume that never changes – that of the Easter Bunny (aka Nic, my other co-owner). He hides the eggs each year with a team of bunnies, and always wears bunny ears, a tweed jacket, and and old moth-eaten fur shoulders worthy of John Snow.
Regardless of your camp, the competition to grab the most eggs is fierce, and as many are eaten during the hunt, the lavish Easter brunch is usually a bit pointless. But it wouldn’t be Easter without it!
The afternoon would be spent in a happy chocolate coma, except that instead we’re engaged in bitter fighting over next year’s costume theme. Everyone puts forward their suggestions, a small group of us choose our three favourites, and then we all go to the courtyard to vote. Three areas are marked out on the ground representing the three themes, and people stand in the one of their choice. There’s a lot of heckling. But then the winner is declared and we all have a full year to plan our costumes! Which in no way stops me from organising mine in a blind panic at the last minute every single year.
That leaves only one thing left to do – the annual group photo in front of the fountain.