Decorated Eggs for Easter: Custom and Folklore
Eggs are something all Christians in the United States and many other countries associate with Easter. The egg is a symbol of new life as a new life emerges when a baby chick emerges from the egg. It is also symbolic of the tomb that held Jesus until he arose on Easter with a new life. To pagans it was a symbol of the rebirth of the Earth.
Traditionally chicken eggs are dyed or painted. Some modern customs substitute chocolates eggs or plastic eggs which hold candy.
Folklore and Traditions
To the ancient Zoroastrians the New Year was celebrated on the spring equinox. To celebrate it they painted eggs for Nowrooz. The tradition lasted for 2,500 years plus. The walls of Persepolis show eggs being carried to the king for Nowrooz. For the Jewish people a hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water is a symbol of the festival sacrifice offered at the temple in Jerusalem for the Passover Seder (a ceremonial dinner).
In modern America as well as other places the Easter bunny has become a major symbol of Easter Northern European pagans commonly used the hare or bunny and eggs in pagan springtime celebrations.
. One tradition in the United Kingdom is rolling eggs down steep hills on Easter Sunday. In the United States Easter eggs are often rolled on flat ground. It is pushed along with a spoon, and has become something of a tradition on the White House lawn.
A common custom in the U.S. is Easter egg hunts for children where hard-boiled eggs are hidden for children to find. Usually a prize is given. I remember helping to supervise one of these when I was a member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Eggs are also used in egg tapping contests.
In the North of England a traditional game that is played consists of hard boiled pace eggs are distributed and each player hits the other player’s egg with their own. That is called “egg tapping,” “egg dumping,” or “egg jarping.”.Whoever holds the last unbroken egg wins. The losers can eat their eggs.
Every year an annual egg jarping world championship is held at Easter at Peterlee cricket club. Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia, Lithuania, Lebanon, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, and other countries also practice this custom, which they call tucanje.
It is practiced in many other countries as well.
In southern Louisiana the practice is called pocking Eggs. The Cajuns have the winner eat the eggs of the losers in each round.
The egg dance is a traditional Easter game in which eggs are laid on the ground or floor. The dancers must dance around them without breaking the eggs. This dance originated in Germany. In the UK it is called hop-egg.
Traditional village plays in England called Pace Plays have a rebirth theme. It is a drama in the form of combat between a hero and a villain. The hero is killed and brought back to life.
Mediterranean countries such as Lebanon there have a custom of decorating eggs for Easter and use them for decoration around the house. On Easter day children duel with them and say,” Christ is resurrected, Indeed he is.” They then break and eat the eggs.
Ending of Lent
Traditionally lent has been a period of making minor sacrifices and easter is the breaking of the fast.
As kids we looked forward to the first piece of candy we could eat come Easter Sunday, as I recall.
At one time it was customary to use up all the eggs in the household before lent. Eggs, at that time, were forbidden during Lent and other days of fast in western Christianity. In Eastern Christian churches this is still the practice. Also in Eastern Christianity both meat and dairy products prohibited during Lenten fast. For them eggs are considered dairy i.e., a foodstuff taken from an animal without shedding blood.
For Christians the egg is a symbol of the resurrection partly because it carries new life sealed in it. In Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, Easter eggs are dyed red, as the red represents the blood of Christ, which was shed on the cross. The hard eggshell symbolizes the sealed tomb, which Christ was in. Cracking the egg symbolizes the resurrection. At the end of the Paschal Vigil, and distributed to the faithful. Households bring Easter baskets to church filled with Easter eggs and other Paschal foods, which might include paskha, kulich or Easter breads, which are blessed by the priest.
In some traditions the Paschal greeting with the Easter egg is extended to the dead. The second Monday or Tuesday of Pasha people bring blessed eggs to the cemetery and bring a joyous paschal greeting for their departed. The greeting being “Christ has risen.”
According to an Eastern Orthodox legend Mary Magdalene was bringing cooked eggs to share with the other women at Christ’s tomb. The eggs in he basket turned a bright red when she saw Jesus risen. The egg is symbolic of the boulder that was at the tomb.
Another legend about Mary Magdalene is that after the Ascension of Jesus she went to the Roman emperor and greeted him “Christ has Risen.” In response the emperor pointed at an egg on his table and said,” Christ has no more risen than that egg is red.” After he said that the egg did turn a blood red.
In Bulgaria, Russia, Romania. Ukraine, Poland, and other Slavic countries folk traditions consider the egg as a symbol of new life.
A wax resistant process is used to create intricate, brilliantly colored eggs among which is the Ukrainian pysanka.
The Faberge workshops, which are well known, created jeweled Easter eggs for the Russian Imperial court. Surprises are often hidden inside the eggs; these might be clockwork birds or miniature ships.
Many other decorating techniques from many traditions prepare eggs as tokens of friendship, love and good wishes
There are special eggs for the visually impaired children so they can participate in Easter Egg hunts. These eggs beep. Since 2008 the International association of bomb Investigators and Technicians have sponsored a nationwide charity campaign in the U.s., by building beeping Easter eggs every year for the visually impaired children, according to Wikipedia.
Another kind of decorative egg
- Limoges Porcelain Decorative Eggs for Easter
Porcelain eggs from La Vie en Rose Porcelain factory shop, Saint Junien, Limousin, France What could be a more charming Easter gift than a hand painted egg made from Limoges porcelain? Limoges is an ancient...