From gifting to decorating to hunting, they are an essential part of the celebration.
Easter is celebrated each year on a Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It marks the conclusion of Lent — 40 days of fast observed by Christians the world over.
According to popular perceptions, Easter eggs are symbolic of new life.
There are several notions concerning the origin of Easter eggs. In fact,
the tradition of festivities associated with colourful eggs predates Christianity. In ancient Egypt, decorated eggs were given as gifts to mark the onset of spring.
The Christians of Mesopotamia were the earliest to use eggs as a symbol of Easter. In the Orthodox and Eastern catholic churches, eggs are painted red to depict the blood of Christ during Crucifixion. The hard shell of the egg represents the shape of the tomb where the body of Christ was kept, and the cracking of the shell represents his resurrection and ascension.
In modern times, chocolate eggs have come to replace the customary dyed eggs. The custom of giving chocolate eggs on Easter began in the 19th century in Europe. But it is said that this tradition was largely popularised by Cadbury’s (the chocolate company) with the invention of finer ways of making chocolate. Jelly beans and marshmallows are also popular candies associated with Easter.
Children get to have fun on Easter because of the games associated with this festival such as the egg hunt where decorated eggs are hidden so that the kids can hunt for them!
The egg hunt is also associated with the German legend of Osterhase. According to legend, a poor woman living in Germany decorated eggs for her children and hid them in the garden for them to find. Just when the eggs were found by the children, they saw a large hare (hase) hopping away giving the impression that it had left the eggs. The egg and the hare are symbols of new life ad rebirth and have no Biblical reference.
Egg rolling games are organised all over the world. It is symbolic of the rolling away of the rock at the tomb of Christ. One popular game organised at the White House in Washington D.C., the U.S.. on Easter Mondays is when hard boiled eggs are rolled down the South lawn. This tradition is said to have started during the tenure of the fourth U.S. President James Madison at the initiative of his wife and First Lady, Dolley Madison. This is also popular in some of the Western European countries such as England where eggs are rolled down a slope and the person who rolls it down the furthest or is able to aim it between two pegs is declared the winner.