Easter season is upon us and many of us are busy dyeing eggs or planning our Easter festivities. As I was preparing this year, I started to wonder about the history of the Easter egg and why dyeing an egg plays such a prominent role in a Christian religious holiday?
Where Did Easter Eggs Originate?
If you look up the history and definition of the Easter egg, you’ll find two prominent versions: a pagan origin and a Christian definition.
Even though Easter is a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Christ, some believe the addition of eggs to be a pagan tradition that was used to celebrate new life. According to Forbes.com:
“Easter comes from an Old English word referring to the month of April, named after the pagan goddess of the dawn. In other modern languages, Easter is called a variant of Paschal, a word that can refer to either Easter or to Passover, demonstrating the strong link between these two Judeo-Christian celebrations.”
However, others believe that eggs represent the new life of Jesus as he was resurrected from the tomb.
Who Thought of Eggs for Easter Anyway?
The story goes that German immigrants brought over a tradition of a bunny called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws” that laid color eggs. In Spring, kids would make colorful nests so that the rabbit could lay the eggs.
Later, it is believed that the nests were replaced with baskets and that the bunny would not just lay eggs, but would also deliver chocolate and gifts to children.
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So, Why Do We Color Eggs?
The coloring of the eggs is thought to have a religious tie. Some religions, even today, dye the eggs red as a representation of the blood of Jesus. The outer shell is believed to represent the tomb where Jesus was buried, which gets “cracked” to symbolize His resurrection.
However, other sources say that it was a common tradition to color eggs as gifts during Spring festivals. It is believed that this tradition of decorating eggs was adopted by the Christians, who expanded it to include the red egg representing Jesus.
According to History.com:
Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century, according to some sources. One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration.
Some say that this is why eggs are still served today as part of an Easter feast on the holiday.
Do you decorate Easter eggs? What is your favorite way to decorate them?