Has it ever occurred to you to wonder how we moved from the Resurrection of Christ to chocolate Easter eggs and cute bunnies? No? Well, this thought occurred to me. So, since I have been spending March writing Spring blogs to enlighten you, it’s time for another history lesson… (Don’t worry – I’ll try and keep it interesting!)
Oh, and if history isn’t your ‘thing’, I have also just published a new Easter egg beading pattern. It’s a cute, really quick little make if you need something last minute before Easter…
The origins of Easter eggs
So, does it seem a bit of a stretch – maybe even an irreverence – to link eggs and Christ? Maybe. Although if you think about it, the resurrection is all about re-birth and new beginnings. Eggs are new life. So, really, we’re talking about the same thing aren’t we?
Well, that’s one reason eggs have become synonymous with Easter.
A little detour…
Or, let me elaborate some more. One of the more interesting (to my mind) modules on my history degree was all about the Incas and Aztecs. Specifically, I was supposed to be studying the Spanish conquest of South America.
‘Importing’ Catholicism was a critical part of the conquest. But how do you teach a race who believes in many gods and goddesses, representing all kinds of different elements, to accept that this view is wrong and they should only believe in a single God?
That’s actually pretty tough. Looking back from a world in which we now try to promote more tolerance and respect for other views, is it even right?
What happened was actually compromise. The Catholic Church offered numerous saints. So, although they weren’t actually Gods, the Native population came to equate their system of many gods with the Saints. The Catholic priests turned a blind eye to this idolatry and some sort of compromise was reached.
…and back to the original point
I’ve massively over-simplified that! But actually, the link between the Christian belief in the Resurrection and Easter eggs is sort of similar. Pagan traditions of celebrating fertility and new life involved many rituals. Painting eggs is a tradition that historians can evidence in many parts of the world.
So, bring the two together and you end up with this seemingly random association. The successful spread of any religion depends on its ability to incorporate existing ideas and beliefs. So, we may be looking back across more centuries, but the idea of ‘compromise’ or ‘melting pots’ is still the same.
Add into this, that eggs were a key food to give up during Lent and you have a full picture. Easter marked the end of Lent, so it made perfect sense to associate that with eggs since they were now ‘allowable’ food once again!
What about the chocolate?
Well, Godiva, the chocolatiers, have a handy little story there. Apparently, the tradition of chocolate eggs evolved in France or Germany in the nineteenth century.
I mean, you have eggs which you can eat. You have chocolate (which you can’t get enough of!). So, somewhere along the lines some clever marketer saw the opportunity to combine the two…
And, like many other traditions, this soon spread worldwide as emigrants took their traditions to the New World.
So, where does the Easter bunny fit?
It’s kind of easy to see how Easter chicks and Easter eggs go together. But who on earth decided that chocolate Easter eggs should be delivered by a bunny?
Well, in part, we’re back to the fertility link… you know, ‘breeding like rabbits’ and all that.
But several sources suggest that the idea of bunnies delivering eggs came from German settlers arriving in Pennsylvania in the 1700s. They had a tradition of an egg-laying Hare – the “Osterhase”. Children would build nests for the hares to leave their eggs. Some also left out carrots to feed the hares on their gift-giving journey. (Is it just me, or are you also getting flashbacks to stockings and Santa here?)
I have no idea how much truth there is in all of that, but if you’re interested in a few more Easter traditions, try this>>
Why I’m sticking with beads…
So, between urban myths, fake news and Chinese whispers, is any of what I’ve just recounted believable?
I’ll leave you to decide. For me, it’s beads all the way. So, all the Easter egg, Easter chicks and Bunny patterns you’ve been enjoying in this post are for real! …And, they will make great new Easter traditions for you to hand down.
So, if you still need a little Easter beading fix, then check out all the Easter beading projects right here>>
And, if you’ve got any Easter traditions or tall tales to share with us, I invite you to leave a comment below…