The Easter Egg

Eggs were used to symbolize a hope common to many cultures - that of a rebirth into a new life after death. They were found in many pagan and Christian graves and tombs as a symbol of this hope and, in the case of pagans, as nourishment for the deceased on their final journey. In some religions, the egg was a symbol of reincarnation. Christians saw the chick emerging from its shell as a symbol of Christ exiting His tomb on Easter morning. Eggs were blessed, used in Easter ceremonies, hung on altars and tombs and even under the feet of Christ Crucified as emblems of the resurrection. Red eggs were used to remind believers that the new life sprang from the blood of Christ.
For a long time it was forbidden to eat eggs during Lent so Christians began decorating the spring surplus of eggs and giving them as gifts on Easter morning to celebrate the resurrection and the end of the Lenten fast. In Ireland it was customary to eat eggs for breakfast on Easter morning. The Ukrainians made special Easter eggs called pysanky by repeatedly drawing wax designs on raw eggs and then dipping them into a dye bath. It was believed that pysanka-writing was an important weapon against Satan and if pysanky were no longer made the world would be engulfed in evil or simply cease to exist.
In most countries the Easter Rabbit, Hare, or Chick brings baskets of eggs to the children. But in a few Roman Catholic countries, where church bells are not rung from Maundy Thursday until Easter Eve, children may be expecting the bells to come back from Rome bearing Easter eggs. The Easter Hare began delivering eggs when he was still a bird and the companion of the pagan spring goddess, Eostre, from whom we get the name Easter. Apparently he displeased her one day and was changed into a hare.
Egg races, egg rolling, and other egg games are popular at Easter, and in some areas children may go caroling for their eggs. Colorful Easter egg trees were made popular in some parts of America by the Pennsylvania Dutch who improved upon their German ancestors' custom of hanging undyed eggs outside on bushes and trees. The English used to write notes on their Easter eggs. In some countries, eggs are even given to the dead during the Easter season. In Yugoslavia some eggs are dyed black and left on family graves and the Ukranians throw eggshells in rivers in honor of their departed family members.

Tucker, Suzetta. "ChristStory Egg Page." ChristStory Christian Bestiary. 1998

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