All About
Easter Eggs

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The Christian tradition of Easter eggs may have its roots in an earlier Judaic one, where eggs as a symbol of new life were a symbolic part of the Passover Seder. Numerous ancient cultures adopted the egg as part of the Easter holiday tradition. Greeks exchange red ones that symbolize the blood of Christ; Germans and Austrians green ones. Armenians decorated theirs with holy pictures, and Slavic people adorn theirs with silver and gold. The Romanovs took this a step further, adding precious metals, enamels, precious and semi-precious gems, and clocks and mechanical toys as designed by court jeweler, Peter Carl Fabergé.

Following are several articles on the subject:

How the egg came to symbolize Easter

By Patricia Zacharias / The Detroit News
The joy and hope of Easter Resurrection has been symbolized for centuries by lambs, rabbits, lilies and crosses. The simple egg, however is perhaps the oldest and most universal symbol of rebirth and new life. The custom of offering Easter eggs, either chocolate or hard boiled and colored, dates back well beyond the early years of Christianity to the most ancient pagan traditions.
Egyptians and Persians used to dye eggs in spring colors and give them to friends as a symbol of renewed life long before Christ was born. The myths of several Eastern and middle Eastern cultures maintain that the earth itself was hatched from a giant egg.
    Scholars believe the name Easter is derived from Oestar, a goddess of Spring and renewal. The rabbit or hare was the symbol of fertility, new life and of the moon in ancient Egypt. It may have become an Easter symbol because the date for Easter is determined by the moon. Also the ancient Egyptians called the hare Wenu, an insignia of the rising of the sun, Ra, and of the resurrective powers of Osiris.
Polish legend has it that on the first Good Friday a man was taking a basket of eggs to market to sell. On the way he put the basket down and ran to help Christ carry the cross. When he returned, the eggs were supposedly decorated in beautiful colors and designs. Polish immigrants continued the tradition of 'Pisanki' decorated eggs.
    Other Eastern Europeans, Czechs, Romanians and Ukrainians followed the tradition. Some of the designs have significant meanings and are handed down in a family from generation to generation. Others are characteristic of different regions. The eggs are always included in the food basket when it is taken to the church for the traditional Easter Saturday blessing. Ukrainian tradition holds that, as long as there is a pisanka being decorated somewhere in the world, the world will never end.
    Paska, the traditional Ukranian Easter bread, was as intricately decorated as wedding cakes. The decorations of tiny lambs, doves, flowers and other symbolic figures were made of dough rather than frosting. The bread itself is symbolic of the bread used at the Last Supper.
Easter's place on the calendar was not actually fixed to the Sunday after the first full moon of Spring until 325 AD by the Roman Emperor Constantine. The emperor may also be responsible for starting the traditional Easter Parade when he ordered every citizen to wear his or her best clothing to observe the Holy Day.
    Early Christians believed the week before Easter was a good time to be baptized, calling it 'White Week.' They wore new white clothes as a sign of their new life. Europeans came to believe that a new piece of clothing worn on Easter Sunday would bring good luck. Old or used garments would usher in a year of misfortune.
    The grandfather of Easter parades in the United States is the Atlantic City parade, started in 1860, when the strollers in their new Spring finery took walks on the Boardwalk. The promenade on New York's Fifth Avenue was immortalized in Irving Berlin's song, 'Easter Parade.'    
    The traditional White House Easter Monday egg roll, always the day after Easter, dates back to 1878 with President Rutherford B. Hayes. In those days, children were given the run of the rolling green lawns and brought their own Easter baskets and eggs. Now, the White House lawn is stocked with special eggs of unbreakable wood, many of which are imprinted with the Presidential seal. These dated eggs have become collectors items.
    The decorations and celebrations of the holiday may change with new generations, but the story of the Resurrection, Christianity's assurance of life everlasting endures.

Easter Egg Traditions from Germany

--from the website www.germanculture.com

It is really impossible to imagine Easter without such an attribute as colored eggs. This is a very old tradition dating back to the 16th century to exchange colored eggs as Easter presents. Later, it became a custom for young people who were in love with each other, to give the decorated eggs to their sweethearts.

People used complicated techniques to decorate the eggs. Eggs were gilded, lined with paper and adorned with inscriptions and ornaments. A popular method was to inscribe decorations and verses on the white eggs using liquid wax. Afterwards the eggs were dyed and the spots covered with wax remained and were clearly visible. This elaborate technique is still applied in a few Hessian villages. Nowadays the coloring techniques have become simplified: You can use natural or artificial dye-stuff to make the eggs look like bright toys. The most common household method is using onion-peel brew for eggs-coloring.

Beautifully colored eggs are a perfect Easter gift. Unlike the feudal-time tradition, when the different social classes had different rights and duties (in this case the right to receive the gift and the duty to give it), nowadays people exchange Easter presents to express the friendly attitude and affection. However nobody, and least of all children, is obligated to give presents at Easter. Kids only receive them. In some German regions, children virtually collect Easter eggs from their relatives, especially their godparents. In general, the customs relating to children's gifts have also changed. What once were conventional little gifts, have now become more or less "surprise presents" brought by the Easter Bunny, as little children believe.

Children play games with Easter eggs: They try to outdo each other in rolling colored eggs down grassy slopes, or they knock the egg's pointed ends together, and the child whose egg does not shatter gets the broken egg too. And the family would eat hard-boiled eggs for weeks afterwards!






Easter Egg Tradition

One fairly modern, quite extra-biblical tradition concerning Mary Magdalene says that she was a woman of some wealth and social status. Following Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, she used her position to gain an invitation to a banquet given by Emperor Tiberius Caesar. When she met him, she held a plain egg in her hand and exclaimed "Christ is risen!" Caesar laughed, and said that Christ rising from the dead was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red while she held it. Before he finished speaking, the egg in her hand turned a bright red, and she continued proclaiming the Gospel to the entire imperial house. 

Today, many Eastern Orthodox Christians end the Easter service by sharing bright red eggs and proclaiming to each other, "Christ is risen!" The eggs represent new life, and Christ bursting forth from the tomb. This began one tradition of coloring Easter eggs. 
from thenazareneway.com

By Anne Campbell
/ The Detroit News
March 26, 1948
The world is ready for the Spring,
The winter has been long and cold.
The birds will soon fly home to sing
Of April glories they behold.

The world has need of Eastertide.
It has been plunged in Lenten gloom.
But now upon the countryside,
The bashfu
l crocuses will bloom.

Egg Painting - from www.globalgourmet.com
Judeo-Christian culture was not the first and it is far from the only society to have found the egg's alabaster shell an ideal canvas. Egg coloring preceded Christianity itself by almost a millennium with evidence found indicating that the Chinese were adorning eggs at least as early as 900 B.C.

Common threads join virtually all forms of egg art. Anthropological studies almost universally find the egg to be a symbol of fertility and rebirth, with its artistic manifestations at the core of many religious belief systems. As such, ritualistic ornamentation of eggs most often revolved around specific holidays or general celebrations associated with spring.

Easter and Lenten egg painting found their roots, in part, in the pre-Christian traditions of the people of northern Europe. Colored eggs of migratory birds returning from warmer climates marked the return of spring to many in the north. It is speculated that artistic renderings on eggs probably occurred as domestication of fowl created a larger supply of white and brown eggs. Dyes using local vegetation then came to furnish a reasonable substitute for colored eggs once provided by the travelling harbingers of the earth's annual rebirth.

Roman and Orthodox Christian missionaries moved the metaphor a step further, as they sought to blend these ancient traditions with the message of spiritual renewal represented in the Resurrection. Egg art evolved to include intricate ornamentation replete with Christian symbols, iconography, and portraits.



Throughout the world and its many cultures, the egg is a widely used symbol for spring, dating back nearly five thousand years to the Ancient Egyptians. The pre-Christian Saxons celebrated the spring equinox with Eostre, a god who was associated with eggs and hares (rather than rabbits). In English 'Eostre' is the root of the Christian festival Easter, although many other languages follow the Hebrew word pasch (like Passorver) resulting in the French paques, Dutch pasen, Spanish Pascua and, in many Eastern countries, pascha.

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