The Origin of the Easter Egg

Have you ever wondered why decorated eggs are such a big deal at Easter? What do hard-boiled eggs have to do with the resurrection of Christ? And why is a rabbit bringing them?! Well, the answer is actually pretty interesting.

I always figured that dying eggs was just a way to celebrate the beginning of spring that coincides with Easter, and that it didn’t originate from any religious reason. But it turns out that dying Easter eggs began with the early Christians of Mesopotamia. They died eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ. My family still does this (we are Greek Orthodox)! The Christian Church officially adopted the custom in 1610 AD.

 

The egg is now seen throughout Christianity as a symbol of resurrection. In her book Christianity, Anne Jordan says that eggs represent the empty tomb. From the outside, they look like a dead object, but inside there is a life waiting to hatch. The egg is thus a reminder that Jesus will rise from His tomb and bring new life. Pretty interesting, right?

It’s also been suggested that the importance of the egg may have originated from the roasted egg (the Beitzah) at Passover Seder, or perhaps the tradition of serving eggs at Jewish funeral’s during Christ’s ministry on Earth. The Orthodox Churches also abstain from eating eggs during Lent, and the only way to keep them fresh until Easter was to boil or roast them. Hence the hard-boiled eggs!

From the Ukranian pysanka to the the Polish drapanka, there are tons of different ways that people around the world decorate their Easter eggs. You can see pictures of eggs from around the world here! As for the bunny who brings them, he’s a more recent convention. It seems he originated in the 17th century among German Lutherans as a judge who evaluated if kids were good or bad at the start of Easter. Basically a tiny, furrier version of Santa Claus.

Pysanka. From susanbenarcik.wordpress.com

I may have gotten most of this information from Wikipedia, but I still think it’s pretty cool! Dying eggs seems like just another Western convention similar to the Easter Bunny now, but it turns out that even the Mesopotamians were doing it! Nothing like a several hundred year tradition to make you feel connected to your ancient ancestors.

Anyway, enjoy your eggs today! And if anyone bothers to ask “Why are we eating these?”, you’ll know the answer!

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