Merry Valent-easter!

2014-02-13 10:00

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A handy guide to the retail calendar

Shoppers are increasingly surprised by Easter bunnies and hot cross buns in February, and Boney M’s Little Drummer Boy in October. It’s all part of the new calendar, brought to you by our national retailers.

Here’s a handy guide on what to buy, what to say and what to be annoyed about at various times during the year.

»?January 2

Christmas stock goes on sale, but no one wants those chocolate Santas, even if they are half-price. Besides, most shoppers are (briefly) on diet as part of some foolish New Year’s resolution. The shops are also full of back-to-school stuff?–?lunchbox treats, stationery, grey flannel, flasks of gin for harassed mothers (you wish).

»?January 14

This is officially the day on which we agree to stop wishing people a happy New Year. Don’t even mention the holidays. It just makes people depressed. Half-price Santas disappear, perhaps to be melted down and made into Easter eggs, who knows? Valentine’s stock appears on the shelves. All the red packaging will give you a clue.

»?Early February

Although Easter is still far away, there are subtle signs of its approach. Boxes of marshmallow eggs and trays of hot cross buns co-mingle with the heart-shaped truffles on shop shelves. We are now entering that retail limbo period of Valent-easter.

»?February 15

Valentine’s chocolates go on special. This is a good opportunity to buy inexpensive treats for the kids’ lunchboxes. Obviously, small slabs of chocolate with a kitty saying, “You are Puuurrrr-fect”, will only be welcomed by kids under eight. A 13–year-old will be teased mercilessly.

»?March 1

The solemn Christian festival of Easter is celebrated with more chocolate fashioned into various small animals. Entering a supermarket in March is like being on a bad acid trip while trapped inside the Benoni Bunny Park. Just don’t do it.


Retailers devote the early part of this month to flogging sweet stuff in honour of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and trying not to alienate or offend other faiths. Easter (hot cross buns, Easter eggs) and Passover (matzo, no bread) generally occur at about the same time. Awks.

Companies are treading on (chocolate) eggshells wishing everyone well over their respective festivities. Many of us have difficulty remembering what to wish people of different faiths at various times.

Is it “well over the fast”? Or no, hang on, that’s the other one. And why can you say “Merry Christmas” but not “Merry Easter”? And for Lent? What about “Commiserations”? And do you say “Happy Eid”?

When in doubt, go for something generic like: “What a special time of the year.”

Eggs-citing times: The retailers’ calendar for consumers means that Easter is now being introduced to us as early as February

»?End April

It may still be sweltering, but as far as the retailers’ marketing departments are concerned, winter is upon us.

This means root vegetables, hot milky drinks, boots, scarves and small pricy blankets that are called throws, presumably for the same reasons that small pricy cushions are called scatter.

»?May 11

Mother’s Day. Mothers, according to advertisers, like only soap, chocolates, hand cream and CDs of Celine Dion. Buy your mother an electric drill.

»?June 15

Father’s Day. Fathers, according to advertisers, like only beer, biltong, sports, socks and small fiddly penknives.

»?June 28

Businesses are wishing their Muslim customers well over the fast. It must be irksome for the retailers, because Ramadan offers few sales opportunities?–?no snack foods or bottles of bubbly to pile up high in a cheery display?–?but in the interest of multiculturalism, it has to be done, says the marketing department.

»?August 9

Women’s Day. This day has been reduced to another excuse to sell stuff for The Lady in Your Life. The thinking woman spends two weeks in a rage and refuses to buy anything even vaguely lady-ish. Helpful hint: Mutter “You strike a woman, you strike a rock” in a threatening tone if someone in a shopping centre offers you a rose.

»?September 1

Glow, dammit! It’s spring. Golden highlights, gorgeous summery skin, pretty toes, cellulite-free thighs, cheerful T-shirts, ice cream-coloured flip-flops. These are just some of the things you will need to acquire or develop. And pronto.

»?Fun retail fact: You are guaranteed to see one of the following phrases on a store window this season: Spring into Summer! Nautical but Nice! In the Swim! Lookin’ Hot!

»?Late September

With Halloween around the corner, jelly eyeballs and bubble gum bats appear in the stores. The black-and- orange theme is softened by the appearance of, yes, you guessed it, Christmas baubles. Happy Hallow-mas!

Cue Boney M and the ring-ting-tinging of tills because Christmas is a-coming.

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