From painting them bright colors, searching for them, or simply devouring them on the spot, eggs are such a big part of Easter. But how did it become an element of this traditional celebration?
Eggs were particularly prized at Easter because before industrial farming, chickens laid few or no eggs during the winter. Egg production is light dependent, and given the lack of sunlight in winter, egg production decreases. When spring came, the chickens returned to lay eggs. Eggs were so prized that they were even used as part payment for wages.
Where did the tradition start?
Easter eggs are actually the product of the Easter bunny, a mythical creature that delivers eggs to children. The modern rabbit comes from the 17th-century folklore Osterhase, a German hare that lays eggs.
In Denmark until the 1920s, the tradition was only adopted in Jutland and on the island of Langeland. Today in Scandinavia, the Easter Bunny brings chocolate eggs and hides them in the garden for children to find on Easter Sunday.
The meaning of the rabbit at Easter is closely related to its historical use as a symbol of fertility: Easter falls in spring, a time of rebirth and new life when flowers begin to bloom and baby animals are born.
Easter Egg Games
In addition to rolling eggs, an Easter egg hunt is a popular activity for Easter Sunday. The smallest eggs, often wrapped in colored aluminum foil, are hidden in gardens and parks for children (hopefully) to find.
The modern chocolate Easter egg was first made by Cadbury’s in 1875, two years after JS Fry & Sons of England devised the first chocolate egg.
Its production was due in part to the advancement of separating cocoa butter from cocoa beans, as this made it possible to eat chocolate that could be molded into shapes, such as eggs. However, it is not clear why an egg. Most likely, John Cadbury saw an opportunity to capitalize on the popularity of decorative Easter eggs by making them edible.
The practice of decorating eggshells themselves is quite ancient, with decorated and engraved ostrich eggs found in Africa being 60,000 years old. Depictions of ostrich eggs in gold and silver were often placed in the tombs of the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians.
As an Easter tradition, decorative eggs date back to the 13th century. Due to its ancient history and symbolism, many cultures have their own tradition of decorating eggs.
In Christianity, eggs are believed to have been a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people painted and decorated them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting. Early Christians in Mesopotamia dyed eggs red to mimic the blood that Christ shed during his crucifixion. The church continued these traditions, as decorations became more elaborate and eggs were often given as gifts.
Eggs are still decorated today as they are a fun activity to do with children. Blowing the eggs and then painting or staining the intact shells is the most common method.
Source: La Nación