As Hungary struggles against the third wave of the pandemic, vaccination has offered a ray of hope. More than two million people have now had one dose of a vaccine, with the government insisting vaccination is the only way to stop the crisis, rather than more restrictions.
This year the Easter bunny is also bringing vaccines – with a chocolatier outside the capital using his decade of experience to craft a unique treat for Easter 2021.
Laszlo Rimoczi designed masked chocolate Santas at Christmas but said he wanted to spread a message of hope by creating Easter bunnies holding a small silver syringe.
"It seems that the only solution is the vaccination. This is our hope," he said. "That is why we make a chocolate syringe with the bunnies. This year the Easter bunny brings no easter eggs but a chocolate vaccine syringe."
The chocolate syringe was modeled from the smallest version Laszlo could find at a pharmacy. He used the medical prop to create a silicone mold that sets melted Italian chocolate into shape before covering the finished product in edible silver dust.
The Hungarian health system is struggling in the pandemic and scrambling to vaccinate as many people as possible. Now, as locals head to get their vaccine, some are taking the chocolate bunnies with them as thanks for hardworking staff.
Former healthcare worker Katalin Tamas came to buy the vaccine bunnies from the small shop in Lajosmizse. She bought one each for her GP and those vaccinating her later in the day. "It is a small symbol that may help to ease the situation of the healthcare workers now and cheer them up a little," she said.
Already the bunnies have proven popular – one of the creative ways Lazlo has managed to keep the shop afloat through the pandemic. Previously, the business had worked on intricate wedding cakes, but with celebrations canceled, they have focused on handmade chocolate to supply their shops and others.
They also sell their confectionery at local markets rather than big festivals they used to attend.
Laszlo is now working on a special design for the new year and hopes we can all learn something from the last 12 months: A focus on slowing down and spending more time with loved ones.