Easter Traditions Eggs-posed

by Donia Varghese
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Easter Traditions Eggs-posed

In the early days, eggs were colored using natural dyes from food and insects (Image courtesy: victoriaexplorer.com)

You don’t need a real reason to eat chocolate but with Easter right around the corner, you now have the perfect excuse to start the day with some of that good stuff.

But what does the Easter bunny really symbolize? Also, what’s all the fuss about chocolate eggs?  Here’s a short history:

How It All Began:  In the olden days, many cultures held festivals to celebrate the spring season. After several months of the cold winter, spring was seen as a period of growth and renewal and special feasts were held to please Eostre, the goddess of spring and fertility.  Eggs and rabbits were considered to be symbols of new life and reproduction and were therefore included in the festivities. Over the years, traditional pagan beliefs regarding rabbits and eggs merged with new Christian beliefs surrounding the resurrection of Christ.

Importance of the Egg:  Christians believe that the egg represents the tomb from which Jesus rose. According to some folktales, the Virgin Mary brought some eggs with her while she helplessly watched her son being crucified. It is said that blood from Jesus’ wounds fell on the eggs and turned them red. Some other fables talk about a weeping Mary pleading with the soldiers at the cross to be less cruel in their actions and offered them some eggs in the hope that they would listen to her.  As Mary’s tears fell on the eggs, they turned a deep shade of red. This explains the old practice of using red dye to colour duck and goose eggs during Easter. During the Middle Ages, Europeans were strict about not eating eggs during Lent. To prevent them from going to waste, the eggs were boiled, pickled in containers and eaten on the day of Easter.

Easter Traditions Eggs-posed

Chocolate eggs of the 19th century were grainy and butter unlike the ones we get today (Image courtesy: motleyhealth.com)

Chocolate Eggs: Though it remains unclear as to who invented the chocolate egg, it is said that many French and German bakeries sold dark chocolate eggs during the 19th century. However, they were not as tasty as the ones we get at stores today. In fact they were grainy, bitter and could not be molded. It was not until 1886 that people were able to enjoy smooth and delicious chocolate. This was made possible all thanks to a new press imported by the Cadbury chocolate company that could easily mold the chocolate and cut out fat content. In 1875,  Cadbury created the first hollow chocolate Easter eggs and later introduced Easter eggs using milk chocolate in 1905. As you can image, they were an instant hit.

Easter Traditions Eggs-posed

Surprisingly, the Easter bunny has its roots in pagan festivals (Image courtesy: heroeswallpapers.com)

Introducing the Bunny: Along with the tradition of the Easter egg shell tree, stories about the Easter bunny made their way into the United States after German immigrants settled in parts of Pennsylvania during the 1700s. Their children were encouraged to make nests so that the mystery bunny could lay colored eggs in them. Caps and bonnets were sometimes used instead of nests to collect these little ‘treasures’. As the custom spread across America, decorated baskets were introduced and the bunny became more generous, leaving behind chocolate and gifts instead of just colored eggs.

So enough with the history…time for some chocolate!

Fresh Print Magazine wishes all its readers a very joyous Easter.

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