Thursday, 19 March 2015
Brightly decorated eggs, Easter egg rolling and Easter egg hunts have become integral to the celebration of Easter today. However, the tradition of painting hard-boiled eggs during springtime pre-dates Christianity.
In many cultures around the world, the egg is a symbol of new life, fertility and rebirth. For thousands of years, Iranians and others have decorated eggs on Nowruz, the Iranian New Year that falls on the spring equinox.
Some claim that the Easter egg has pagan roots. According to this website, even the word Easter is said to have to come to us from the “Norsemen’s Eostur, Eastar, Ostara, and Ostar, and the pagan goddess Eostre, all of which involve the season of the growing sun and new birth”
For Christians, the Easter egg is symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Painting Easter eggs is an especially beloved tradition in the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches where the eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross. Easter eggs are blessed by the priest at the end of the Paschal vigil and distributed to the congregants. The hard shell of the egg represents the sealed Tomb of Christ, and cracking the shell represents Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Moreover, historically Christians would abstain from eating eggs and meat during Lent, and Easter was the first chance to eat eggs after a long period of abstinence. (Orthodox Christians continue to abstain from eggs during Lent.)
Easter egg hunts and egg rolling are two popular egg-related traditions. An egg hunt involves hiding eggs outside for children to run around and find on Easter morning. Eggs are rolled as a symbolic re-enactment of the rolling away of the stone from Christ’s tomb. In the United States, the Easter Egg Roll is an annual event that is held on the White House lawn each Monday after Easter.