Every chocolate lover has the Easter holidays circled in their calendar. This is a time when colourfully wrapped chocolate Easter eggs begin to dominate the shop shelves, but not many people give thought as to why this is (who can blame them with so much heavenly confectionery to enjoy?)
Many cultures and religions around the world see an egg as a sign of fertility and life; this makes it the perfect symbol for a time of year that is all about renewal and birth.
Easter is a Christian festival that celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. On Easter weekend, Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his burial, whilst Easter Sunday celebrates his resurrection.
So, what do eggs have to do with it? In Christianity, the shell of an egg symbolises the sealed tomb that Jesus’ body was placed in, whilst a cracked shell symbolises his resurrection with the tomb left empty.
In the past Christians celebrated Easter by decorating chicken or duck eggs and giving them to each other as presents. Early Christians would stain eggs red in the memory of the blood of Christ. Over time, these became more elaborate and colourful, with jewels even being used to create beautiful pieces of art.
With the invention of moulded chocolate in the nineteenth century, some very clever people in Germany and France had the wonderful idea of creating chocolate Easter eggs to give to loved ones as gifts instead – a seasonal tradition was born!
And the Easter Bunny? This is a folklore figure that originated among German Lutherans. Originally described as a hare and not a rabbit, the creature would determine whether children had been good or bad and carried coloured eggs and candy in its basket to give to good children.
Eggs also relate to Lent – the religious observance where Christians would commit to fasting or abstaining from certain luxuries (often including eggs). This was a form of penance that began on Ash Wednesday and ended on Easter Sunday. Feasts would then take place on this day which would include all of the luxuries that they had sacrificed during this period.
In today’s day and age, many Christians maintain this tradition by giving up eating chocolate for Lent and then indulge in a chocolate egg (or two) on Easter Sunday.
By Laura J,
Christ & Co.