Easter would not be complete without brightly colored Easter eggs, but have you ever wondered where this tradition began? Who thought of painting the shells of eggs such bright, even ornate colors? When did children begin dyeing eggs as part of their Easter holiday traditions?
While Easter is known as a Christian holiday, where believers celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection and the new life they are offered, the tradition of the Easter egg goes farther back in history, before the life of Christ. Eggs have always been a symbol of both fertility and new life. These themes are common in spring holidays around the globe and throughout history. The ancient Egyptians were known to use eggs in their spring festivals, many of which fell around the time of today’s Easter holiday. The same is true of Persians and Romans.
Easter Eggs have a measure of religious history as well. The Catholic celebration of Lent in medieval times forbade the church members from eating eggs. As food was scarce in this century, the eggs that were laid during these weeks of fasting were not wasted. Rather than tossing them out, many were preserved, often through boiling. Easter was the time to break the fast of Lent, and the preserved eggs were an important part of the meal. Even children enjoyed receiving eggs at Easter as gifts, since they had been forbidden for so many weeks. Servants were also given an egg at the Easter dinner, a rare treat for those in the medieval serving class.
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