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An Egg-lectic Tradition:Cracking the history of the Easter Egg

Author: Pankaj Sharma
by Pankaj Sharma
Posted: Mar 29, 2016

Spring is right around the corner, starting off with the holiday of Easter. Celebrated by Christians in remembrance of Christ’s resurrection, it is said that the holiday’s roots come from Pagan traditions. It is also thought that the word "Easter" is derived from the word "Ostera" or "Eostre", the name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. So how exactly did eggs become associated with Easter? Wisk by Cakesmiths, a pastry school based in Mumbai which offers cake courses in Mumbai, delved deeper into the history of the Easter egg.

The egg has always been an ancient symbol of fertility and new life throughout many civilizations such as Ancient Persia, Rome and Egypt. There are many customs which incorporate the use of eggs. In Europe, eggs were hung on the Maypoles, New Year trees, as well as on St. John’s trees during midsummer. The connection between the egg and nature’s regenerative powers have been connected through these practices. Eggs were commonly used during their spring rites and festivals. In Christianity, the Easter egg represents Jesus’s resurrection. For millennia, Persians have decorated eggs in celebration of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year which falls on the day of the spring equinox, and this tradition still continues today. In Mumbai, the large Catholic community celebrates Easter by attending Mass at churches and hosting get-togethers at home.

In the early days of Christianity, the egg symbolized new life as a chick would likely hatch from the egg. During the later Christian era, it was thought that if two yolks were found in one egg, it meant that the person would become wealthy very soon. Another belief was that eggs laid on Good Friday kept for one hundred years would have their yolks turn into diamonds! It was also believed that Good Friday eggs cooked on Easter day would encourage fertility of trees and crops, as well protect loved ones against sudden deaths.

The tradition of decorating the Easter egg has been a tradition that goes back to around the 13th century AD. Some sources say that early Christians in the Mesopotamian region dyed their eggs red to symbolize the blood that Christ shed at the time of his crucifixion. The egg was connected to events that occurred during the resurrection, involving Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene.

It is also thought that during the Lenten season and on other fast days, eggs were a forbidden food item. During the forty days of fasting during Lenten, eggs were not eaten. It was a tradition to finish using all the eggs in the household before Lent began, which lead to the establishment of Pancake Day. Thus people would paint and decorate them, marking the end of the fast. The consuming of eggs became a staple on Easter day meals, and the decorated eggs were considered to be prized gifts given to children and servants.

In later times, the colouring and decorating of the eggs became an established art with numerous techniques and traditions of offering them as tokens of love, friendship, or good wishes. There are many baking courses which have become popular in teaching how to make and decorate chocolate Easter eggs filled with treats inside.

There are a few Easter egg customs which are still celebrated in parts of the UK, in which painted eggs are rolled down a steep hill on Easter. In the US, the custom is known as the Easter Egg Roll, usually done on a flat ground and pushed along with a spoon. This custom has also become a popular annual event at the White House lawn. Easter egg hunts another commonly hidden outdoors or indoors, involving children running around to find the most number of eggs. These eggs are usually plastic eggs or hollow chocolate eggs filled with sweets, or toys, wrapped in bright foil or paper. Recently, there are new and specially-prepared Easter eggs that have been developed for the visually-impaired. Known as Beeping Easter eggs, they emit clicks and sounds so that visually-challenged children are able to hunt for them as well. It is certainly a very thoughtful and wonderful way to spread happiness and include all people in Easter, encouraging goodwill- which is what Easter is truly all about!

About the Author

The author is working with a Cake Smiths, a leading supplier of baking tools and equipment in India. The writer has flair for writing and he keeps on writing related to baking industry.

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Author: Pankaj Sharma

Pankaj Sharma

Member since: Jan 11, 2016
Published articles: 29

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