Fluffy chicks, lilies, lambs, bunnies, colored eggs... these, and more, are symbols that we associate with Easter. If you have visited this site before, you know that I like to ask 'why?', and a question has been haunting me all week now, so here it goes...
Why do we have eggs at Easter?
Well, what I have discovered is that though many now consider Easter to be a Christian holiday, there were many pagan religions celebrating this time of year long before Christians claimed it as their own. Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians and Hindus (just to name a few) all believed that the world began with an enormous egg, and so many of these cultures considered the egg to be a symbol of birth and rebirth.
What else is a symbol of rebirth?
If you guessed Spring, we are on the same page. In the Northern Hemisphere, the seasons have changed and we are leaving a harsh winter behind us and watching the world be ‘reborn’. Easter falls very close to the pagan Vernal Equinox which has always been associated with rebirth and fertility, making the egg — also a symbol of rebirth and fertility — a perfect representation of this time of year.
So how was this seemingly pagan symbol integrated into the Christian religion?
Apparently in the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Church, eggs were dyed red to represent the blood of Christ. The shell represented the tomb and cracking the egg to eat it represented the resurrection. I also found a story that says Mary Magdalene brought eggs to share with the women who were mourning at the tomb.
And now in the present day…
Bunnies have also long been a symbol of spring and fertility, and so in our modern day conglomeration of Christian, Pagan and commercial beliefs, it is the ‘fertile’ bunny who ‘lays the eggs’ and hides them for children to find on Easter morning.