Not long ago, it was normal for Kenyans families to do nothing on Easter holidays more than go to church and relax with family over a modest lunch.
Today, Easter means chocolate, egg hunting, egg balancing, bunny races, buying of gifts and elaborate brunches in fancy restaurants.
For traditionalists, Easter has been commercialised as retailers and hotels seek to maximise sales.
Go into supermarket today and you will find Easter-themed items like it is Christmas season.
Restaurants are profiting from brunches or dinners that bring families together. Hotels are advertising on social media suggesting menus for Easter, creating the impression that everyone needs to spend more and more money.
When did egg-hunting or extravagant Easter spending become a Kenyan tradition? Kennedy Mwichuli, the operations manager at Hotel English Point in Mombasa said most high-end hotels have been planning egg hunts for years to make the holiday fun and attract more families. And these activities are luring spenders.
“Egg hunting has been done historically by hotels and some people do the egg scavenging fun in the comfort of their own homes,” he said.
The tradition which is mostly linked to children is becoming popular as hotels use it to lure even adults looking to have a different kind of fun and compete for Easter prizes.
“The youth are more interested in it but if you animate the eggs nicely it becomes a fun event and more people participate in it,” he said, adding that the better the prize such as complimentary stays or vouchers for free dinners, the more the participants.
“People want to win and when you tell them there is a prize they will participate,” he said.
So how can you decorate an Easter eggs?
“They are normal hard-boiled eggs that people colour. You can colour them in Easter colours which include yellow and green,” he said.
Amani Tiwi Beach Resort’s resident general manager Avin George said the chef gives the children raw eggs to paint but the activity will not only attract children.
“We expect about 20 couples to participate in the adults egg hunting and more than 50 children. We have separate hunting events for the adults and children,” said Mr George.
Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa in Mombasa is also luring holidaymakers and families with egg hunting, egg painting and Easter bunny.
Involving families and hosting the egg hunt on a large garden makes it more festive, said hotel’s general manager Siddharth Sathe.
To host a great hunt, hotels start planning early and hire a person who gives small clues on where the eggs are hidden.
“Our team started working on it about two to three months ago. At the hotel the decorations idea for the following year usually start immediately after Easter is done,” Mr Sathe said.
Holding an Easter egg hunt at the hotel, he said, makes the guests also visit the places they would have ordinarily not gone to.
A large property, he said, also allows one to hide the eggs strategically.
“As this is a large hotel, we also have a lot of guests involved in the hunting and it allows them to tour almost all sections of the hotel.
Everyone in the family is jointly involved so it is a great activity at the end of the day,” he said.
The hotels have also added more meals to buffets.
“Food is an integral part of Easter celebrations. We usually line up a big buffet with different types of desserts, traditional stollens, a lot of cakes, puddings and barbecues,” he said.
At Serena Beach Resort & Spa, besides the Easter egg hunt, the hotel has organised beach and pool games, tug of war, eco chess competition, petanque games, beach volleyball and treasure hunts.
Marsden Nzaro, the head of guest activities said it is a fun activity that the hotel organises annually for children only. Prizes include ice creams and a complimentary meal at the hotel.
“We host them every Easter. It is for children only,” said Mr Nzaro, adding that to ring in the holiday the person who will conduct the egg hunt will be wearing a mascot Easter bunny costume.