Easter 2022: All About Easter Eggs
- Vritti Bansal
Updated : April 12, 2022 08:04 IST
The days leading up to Easter see decorative chocolate eggs and bunnies across shopfronts.
A holiday that commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus, Easter will fall on April 17 this year. Some people believe that the English word ‘Easter’ has been derived from ‘Eostre’ or ‘Eostrae’, who is the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, while others believe that Easter comes from the Latin phrase ‘in albis’, which is plural for ‘alba’, or ‘dawn’.
The days leading up to Easter see decorative chocolate eggs and bunnies across shopfronts. The story goes that the Easter Bunny lays eggs, and decorates and hides them. These eggs are meant to symbolise new life. Since ancient times, people have exchanged eggs during spring festivals to mark the change in season. Christians in Mesopotamia coloured eggs during the period after Easter. Orthodox Churches adopted the custom, from where it spread to Western Europe. Since eggs signify new life, it is believed that this practice became a part of Easter celebrations.
Eggs were forbidden when Christians fasted during Lent. And so, it was considered a treat to enjoy eggs for Easter Sunday. Different beliefs related to the egg at Easter were formed. If laid on Good Friday, eggs were believed to morph into diamonds, if kept for 100 years. Some people thought that eggs cooked on Good Friday and eaten on Easter would help fertility and prevent sudden death. So, it became a ritual to have eggs blessed before eating them. If an egg had two yolks, it meant that wealth was to follow.
Eggs were revered at Easter because back then, before poultry farming became industrialised, hens laid few eggs over the winter. And when it was spring, hens began to lay eggs in abundance. Hence, eggs were so prized that they were even used to pay the salaries of pastors and parish clerks.
However, Easter eggs are said to be produced by the Easter bunny and not hens. The Easter bunny is a mythical creature who presents children with eggs. The modern-day Easter bunny has been derived from the 17th-century Osterhase, an egg-laying rabbit part of German folklore. The rabbit is important at Easter because of its historical connection to fertility—since Easter falls during spring, which is considered a time of rebirth as flowers start to bloom and animals procreate.
The Easter tradition of decorating eggs can be traced back to the 13th century. Since decorative eggs have a lengthy history and significance, many cultures have rituals that revolve around decorating eggs. However, the first chocolate egg was conceptualised by J.S. Fry & Sons, a British chocolate company, following which Cadbury’s produced the first modern chocolate Easter egg in 1875.
Today, the Easter egg is a sweet treat enjoyed by many, especially children. Parents buy it for their kids, playing the role of the Easter bunny. While it may be a Christian custom, Easter and the exchanging of Easter eggs has gone on to become more about celebrating the onset of spring and less about religion.