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Eggs-citement at Easter

First Published April 2011
  

Easter eggsEaster eggs have always been part of our traditional celebrations at this time of year and there are all sorts of theories on the reasons behind this.

Some say eggs were old pagan symbols of renewal. Ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians and Hindus are all said to have treated eggs as a symbol of new life; some religions believe the world began with one enormous egg. A hard boiled egg dipped in salt water symbolizes new life at a Passover sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem while Persians have for centuries been celebrating Nowrooz, a new year celebration held on the spring equinox, with painted eggs.

In the Christian calendar, because Easter marks new life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the link with the renewal aspect of eggs is clear and eggs have certainly been a key of Easter celebration for many centuries – the first book to mention Easter eggs by name was written five hundred years ago. Also, in the Christian tradition, no meat, dairy or eggs can be eaten during the strict Lenten fast for forty days and it was during the Easter period that people could return to eating eggs. Eggs therefore became a key part of Easter meals and were often given as affordable, easy to present gifts to children and servants; another reason why eggs have become so associated with Easter.

Whatever the original causes, today Easter eggs are as traditional in our country as Christmas trees. Shops are filled with chocolate and other sweet style eggs for weeks before the Easter weekend and today there is also a range of fun, commercial eggs from tweeting eggs to musical eggs to tempt purchasers. There is even a growing trend in Scotland for fish and chip shops to sell deep fried chocolate Easter eggs for people who want something slightly different!

Colouring eggs for Easter is part of the tradition, and in the past the favourite way to colour that boiled egg for Easter Sunday breakfast was to cook it in water with onion skin; that way a deep tan colour could be achieved. Today you can buy special egg decorating kits if you want to really go to town.

Mid Europe has some lovely egg traditions, including a batik-like decorating process known as pysanka which produces intricate, brilliantly-coloured eggs and of course the famous Fabergé eggs,
eggs decorated with exquisite jewels made for the Russian Imperial Court.

On top of all that, there are also egg activities held during the Easter period such as Easter egg hunts. A famous egg roll takes place on the White House lawn in Washington every year where eggs are pushed along the grass with wooden spoons. In the North of England there is a traditional game where hard boiled eggs are given out and each player hits the other player’s egg with their own egg. The game is known as egg dumping and the winner is the holder of the last intact egg. A similar game, called tucanje, is popular in Bulgaria, Croatia and Servia. The same game is played in parts of Bavaria and Austria but is called ostereiertitschen. In South Louisiana in America a similar game is played called pocking eggs where the winner eats the eggs of the losers in each round.

Without doubt eggs play an important role in the celebration of Easter in many countries and especially for children, Easter would never be the same without that traditional chocolate Easter egg!



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