Easter is an important day in the Christian calendar. However, families across the country – even if they’re not religious – celebrate the holiday. People associate this time of year with eggs, chocolate, and the Easter bunny hiding goodies. Where did all of these traditions come from?
So, why an egg? For many cultures and ancient beliefs, the egg is a symbol of new life. It has been associated with pagan holidays and celebrating the spring. Whereas some Christians believe the egg represents Jesus’s emergence from the tomb and his resurrection.
While it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact moment in time where eggs started to become associated with Easter, they have always been an important symbol of new life and beginnings.
What about chocolate Easter Eggs? To answer this we need to look back a few centuries and Lent. Lent is the six weeks leading up to Easter. People still mark this time and use it to give something up. If you look at history, during Lent Christians did not eat animal products. This included dairy and eggs.
Chickens still laid eggs so in order not to waste them, people boiled these eggs and decorated them to save them. Chocolate is a fun, modern, twist on this ritual.
Of course, some families still take the time to decorate hard-boiled eggs, but there are plenty of other Easter traditions around the world. Residents of Bessières, a French town, create a giant omelette that can serve over a thousand people.
In Germany, families will decorate an Easter tree. You won’t see the Easter bunny in New Zealand. Rabbits are a huge problem for crops, so in Central Otago they have an annual Easter bunny hunt.
You may be wondering how a bunny became associated with Easter Eggs. While plenty of chicks pop up as decorations, they’re not quite as prevalent as bunnies. You’d be surprised just how far back the Easter bunny’s history goes. Some say it began with the pagan goddess of fertility, her animal symbol was a rabbit. There’s also the German tale of ‘Osterhase’ the egg-laying hare who would leave well-behaved children eggs.
These stories started during the 1600s. These days we associate the Easter Bunny with chocolate and treats.
Whether religious or not, Easter is a time to celebrate new life. Plus, tuck into some chocolate while you’re at it. What are some of your favorite Easter traditions?