Easter eggs play an important role in the Christian faith. Nevertheless, these colorful eggs are seen in various stories throughout history – even before the rise of Christianity.
But how did the concept of the Easter egg come to be? Is the Easter egg a universal symbol for Easter? How is it celebrated in various parts of the world? In this article, I’ll try to answer all of these Easter questions. Let’s start our easter egg symbolism article.
Easter Egg Symbolism: Beliefs and Meanings
Generally, eggs symbolize the beginning of creation. Depending on the country, religion, or culture, Easter eggs are regarded differently. In the Christian faith, the Easter egg symbolizes the tomb of Jesus Christ. In some sects, they believe that cracking the egg open symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus – and how he cracked his tomb open.
In the Orthodox Catholic belief, Easter eggs are often dyed a dark red color to represent the blood of Jesus as he died on the cross. These eggs are blessed by the priest and are often placed in front of houses to keep them safe. In the Hindu religion, a golden Easter egg was believed to be the source of all creation. It represents a life found within that is yet to begin.
Similarly, Pagans believed that the egg represents fertility. This is due to the fact that eggs carry life. In some other countries, not all eggs were colorfully painted. The painted Easter eggs were given to good children, while plain white eggs were given to those who were bad – much like getting coal for Christmas.
The History of Easter Egg Symbolism
The practice of painting Easter eggs is believed to have ancient origins. During the Spring Equinox, Pagans would celebrate the beginning of their Ostara holidays by offering painted eggs. Since they believe that eggs are symbols of fertility, they believed that offering them would bring them a bountiful harvest for that season. This practice was first revealed in a German lullaby from the 10th century.
With the arrival of the Christians, the symbolism has changed. Legend has it that Mary Magdalene carried eggs when she went to visit the tomb of Jesus. She intended to share them with the other women who visited the tomb with her. However, when she saw that the tomb was empty, the eggs she carried instantly turned red.
In another version of the legend, Mary Magdalene went to convince the Emperor of Rome that Jesus has resurrected. Due to the Emperor’s skepticism, it was believed the eggs she carried immediately turned red upon her proclamation that Jesus has risen.
Since then, Easter eggs have always been associated with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, the act of associating eggs with the celebration of Easter began only during medieval times. Missionaries believed that celebrating Easter with eggs would inspire people to convert to the Christian faith. During these times, Christians were encouraged to fast during the Lenten season. As a form of a reward for fasting, they were given colorful eggs as a treat after the end of Lent.
By the 19th Century, chocolate eggs replaced ordinary boiled eggs in Europe. These chocolate eggs were either placed in colorful foil wrappers or painted wooden boxes. This attracted more Children to join in on Easter festivities. As a result, they also learned about the sacrifices that they have to make during Lent at an early age.
Easter Egg Symbolism: Interesting Facts
So many activities are associated with the Easter egg. These activities usually vary depending on religion or where you are in the world. Easter egg painting. Easter egg painting is one of the most popular traditions and is usually practiced in different parts of the world. Christians usually use red dye to paint their eggs. Pagans, on the other hand, prefer colorful paint to represent the beauty of spring. While in 13th century England, eggs are painted gold to be presented as gifts to the royals.
Easter egg hunting. Aside from painting, Easter egg hunting is also a famous activity. This practice began in 16th century Germany when Martin Luther, a Protestant Reformer, conducted an egg hunt for his church. It was part of the church’s celebration so that its congregation would feel the festivities of Easter. And the rest is history.
Easter bunny. Another tradition that goes hand-in-hand with Easter egg hunting is the Easter bunny. It all began with stories from German immigrants to America. They believed that the Easter bunny is responsible for laying the eggs that the children were meant to look for.
Easter egg rolling. In some parts of the United States, people are now practicing Easter egg rolling. They believe that this symbolizes the rolling of the boulder which sealed the tomb of Jesus. Easter egg cracking. In parts of Europe, people would crack their eggs against each other. This symbolizes the cracking open of the tomb of Jesus. Certainly, the concept of Easter egg symbolism has greatly changed since the Pagan times. Only a few remember them as symbols of fertility. And perhaps, not all Christians who celebrate Easter know why eggs are involved. Nevertheless, one thing remains the same: Easter eggs symbolize a time of great joy and merriment.