Have you ever wondered why eggs are associated with the Easter season?
Some Christians send out and receive gift baskets containing eggs during this period. Others send gift cards and messages of goodwill bearing photos of eggs in the Eastertide season.
But why eggs?
According to Christian folklore, Easter eggs represent the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the tomb where his body had been buried after his death.
Some cultures across the world regard an egg as a symbol of rebirth. Ancient cultures of the Egyptians, Persians and Phoenicians believed that the world originated from a huge egg. While the specifics may differ, for many communities around world an egg symbolises fertility and a new beginning.
The tradition of sending and receiving eggs over the Easter holiday has, therefore, been around for centuries.
Some sources indicate that this custom has existed from as far back as the 13th century. It started among the early Christian communities with influences from cultures in Europe before spreading to America and other parts of the world.
The ritual is practiced among Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics and other Christian groups in Greece, Egypt and America and Africa. It is also part of what is called the “Roman Ritual”, which is a list of ritualistic practices of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.
In Europe where the tradition is mostly popular, real eggs are still sent as gifts. Elsewhere in the world, hard-carved wooden or plastic eggs are used, and are often sent alongside confectionery such as chocolate. The eggs are normally dyed or patterned.
The custom is also said to have grown popular after eggs were forbidden during the Lenten season. As such, Christians would keep the eggs and decorate them to mark the end of Lent. These eggs would be eaten during the celebration of Easter.
So, what is this custom founded on?
Whereas Easter is a religious tradition, observed all over the Christian world, Easter eggs are said to be a pagan ritual. This practice has no biblical basis –eggs are not mentioned anywhere in the Bible in the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
History.com says that, from ancient times, pagan festivals would feature eggs as people celebrated the arrival of spring after the long, cold winter. From these festivals, the ritual of Easter eggs was born.
This has, however, not kept Christians from sending and receiving Easter egg gifts.
If you are lucky to receive a gift of goodies bearing eggs this Easter, simply enjoy them. Only do not assume this to have any religious significance.