The History of Easter Eggs

Easter EggThe tradition of dyeing eggs in the spring actually predates Christianity, although it is very heavily associated with the Christian holiday of Easter.

Ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hindus all believed that the world began with a giant egg, so it was natural to adapt the egg as a symbol of new life and rebirth in the spring.

More than 2,500 years ago, Zoroastrians decorated eggs for their New Year celebration, called Nowrooz.

During the Passover Seder, Jewish tradition holds that hard-boiled eggs, called Beitzah, are dipped in salt water and eaten.

Some of the most famous egg-decorators are Christian, however.

At Greek Easter, believers dye eggs red to represent the blood of Jesus Christ and his suffering on the cross. The hard shell of the egg represents the sealed tomb. Cracking it represents his resurrection.

In fact, a common game at Greek Easter is to crack eggs against each other to replicate the cracking of the tomb. The person whose egg lasts the longest (by not cracking) is the winner and is assured good luck over the coming year. Recipes and information about Greek Easter celebrations are available here.

Ukrainian eggs are famous around the world. Pyysanka are brilliantly and painstakingly decorated. The eggs are usually raw although baked eggs were sometimes used. The colors came from dried plants, roots, bark, berries, and some insects. The eggs were decorated at night after the children were asleep. A group of women would work together on their designs. Beeswax was used to create designs.

Other well-known eggs include Drapanka from Poland, which are dyed shades of brown using onion skins and etched to create beautiful designs.

However you choose to decorate your eggs, they are a nearly universal symbol of new life, fresh starts, and optimism.

Happy Spring!

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5 Comments

Filed under Europe, Holiday, Middle East

5 responses to “The History of Easter Eggs

  1. I heard a similar conversation like this in the radio yesterday on how are eggs associated with Easter or the resurrection of Christ. That was answered similar to what you had written but there was another question which I was not convinced on the answer, how about the bunnies how are they associated with Easter.

    • Kathryn Coulibaly

      Supposedly, bunnies – or rabbits – are associated with Easter because of springtime and fertility. Rabbits have a reputation when it comes to fertility that led them to be symbols for spring and new life. Also, according to what I read, in the old days there was some confusion between which “nests” were rabbit nests and which were for birds that nested on the ground. So there was some mystery and interest when a presumed rabbit nest was found to have eggs in it. I hope that helps!

  2. Great post…lots of really good info. Children do wonder about the many traditions associated with different holidays…I think it is important that we give them honest answers…because they will discover the truth eventually anyway and it’s crucial to be credible to our children.
    Thank you for always providing something relevant. And I’ve loved your recipe posts…sorry I haven’t commented more. :)

    • Kathryn Coulibaly

      Thanks so much for your comment. I love writing about holidays and different cultures around the world. These are the kinds of things I want to know about for my own child – and things I wish I’d known as a kid – so I really enjoy sharing it with others.

  3. Pingback: The crystal ball walked towards me with a… « IML E-Corpse Fall 2011

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