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Friday, 29 May 2009

FOOD - Easter Mysteries . . . Eggs-plained

Easter Mysteries…Eggs-plained

Where did the Easter Bunny come from and what does it really have to do with Easter?

As Christian religion was blended with pagan religion to convert people more easily, the timing of the pagan festival of Eastre/Eostre coincided with the timing of the resurrection of Christ. Eastre, was the goddess of fertility, (the word ‘eastre’ meaning 'spring'). She was represented symbolically by the form of the hare or rabbit being an extremely fertile animal.

What about Easter Eggs?

Eggs are traditionally connected with rebirth, rejuvenation and immortality. The Greeks and Romans buried eggs in their tombs. Jews still present mourners on their return from the funeral of a relative with a dish of eggs as their first meal. Christianity took this ancient sign of rejoicing at rebirth and applied it to the Resurrection of Jesus.

Eggs were forbidden during Lent, making them extremely popular afterwards at Easter. In Slavic countries, baskets of food including eggs are traditionally taken to church to be blessed on Holy Saturday or before the Easter midnight Mass, then taken home for part of Easter breakfast.

Other European countries such as Poland and the Ukraine have a long tradition of decorating Easter eggs with intricate designs. The Russians are most famous for this. During the reign of the tsars, they celebrated Easter much more elaborately than Christmas, with quantities of decorated eggs given as gifts. The Russian royal family carried the custom to great lengths, giving exquisitely detailed jeweled eggs made by goldsmith Carl Faberge (1880's -1917).

In Germany and other countries of central Europe, eggs that are use to make Easter foods are not broken, but emptied out. The empty shells are then painted and decorated with bits of lace, cloth or ribbon, then hung with ribbons on an evergreen or small leafless tree. In fact the decorated tree is popular in other cultures: on the third Sunday before Easter, Moravian village girls used to carry a tree decorated with eggshells and flowers from house to house for good luck. The eggshell tree is also one of several Easter Traditions carried to America by German settlers especially those who became known as Pennsylvania Dutch. They also brought the fable that the Easter bunny delivered coloured eggs for good children.

Eggs-tremely Interesting facts about Easter:

Each year witnesses the making of nearly 90 million chocolate bunnies.

When it comes to eating of chocolate bunnies, it is the ears that are preferred to be eaten first by as many as 76% of people.

By tradition, it was obligatory (or at least lucky) for churchgoers to wear some bright new piece of clothing - at least an Easter bonnet, if not a complete new outfit.

The painting of eggs is traditionally called Pysanka by the Ukranians.

In medieval times a festival of egg-throwing was held in church, during which the priest would throw a hard-boiled egg to one of the choir boys. It was then tossed from one choir boy to the next and whoever held the egg when the clock struck 12 was the winner and retained the egg.

In Cyprus people play an Easter egg game in which each person takes a hard boiled, coloured egg and tap the ends of their eggs together. If your egg breaks you leave the game for the next person to try. The player left with an unbroken egg is the winner.

Americans consume 15 million jellybeans at Easter, many of them hidden in baskets. If all the Easter jellybeans were lined end to end, they would circle the globe nearly three times.

In Greece, people paint hard-boiled eggs red and bake them into sweet bread loaves on the Thursday before Easter. The red colour stands for the blood of Christ.

Reading detective novels and crime thrillers has become a popular Easter occurrence in Norway. Paaskekrim (Easter crime) refers to the new crime novels available at Easter. Professors at the University of Oslo believe the growing tradition of reading about crime at Easter stems from the violent nature of Christ's death.

Children in Guatemala go out onto the streets on Good Friday to remember Jesus' journey to the cross. People bang drums and let off fireworks. This starts at 5am and goes on until after midnight. Some people also dress as Roman soldiers and at 3pm, which was the time Jesus was put on the cross, everyone changes into black clothing.

Easter was called Pesach by early Christians. It is a Hebrew name for Passover. Today, the name for Easter in many cultures in Europe are similar to the word Pesah such as Paques in France, Pascha in Greece, Pask in Sweden and Pasqua in Italian.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest Easter egg ever was just over 25-ft high and made of chocolate and marshmallow. The egg weighed 8,968 lbs. and was supported by an internal steel frame.

Nathalie Kyrou © 2009. All rights reserved to the author.

1 comment:

Blair said...

Hi Nathalie,

I hope this comment/email finds you well. I recently helped build an infographic about Amazing Egg Facts and thought you might like to use it on Nathalie Kyrou's Writing Space. Here's a link to the infographic(

There's code below the IG that helps you post it, but if you need another image size or would like some help, just let me know. : )