Why Do We Give Easter Eggs?

The Easter egg is venerable indeed. While the gaily colored cardboard ones and rich chocolate ones that we enjoy are quite recent in origin, the real egg, decorated with colors or gilt, has been acknowledged as a symbol of continuing life and resurrection since pre-Christian spring celebrations. Given as gifts by the ancient Greeks, Persians, and Chinese at their spring festivals, the egg also appears in pagan mythology, where we read of the Sun-Bird being hatched from the World Egg. in some pagan customs, the Heaven and Earth were thought to have been formed from two halves of an egg. As the egg was an obvious symbol to early Christians of Jesus' Resurrection, it was felt to be a most appropriate and holy part of the Eastertide celebration. Even as early as the Middle Ages, eggs were colored to be given as gifts at Easter; Edward I's accounts for 1290 include the expense of purchasing hundreds of eggs to be distributed to his household. in the 17th century, pope Paul V blessed the humble egg in a prayer to be used in England, Scotland, and Ireland: "Bless, O Lord, we beseech Thee, this Thy creature of eggs, that it may become a wholesome sustenance to Thy faithful servants, eating in thankfulness to Thee, on account of the Resurrection of Our Lord." Forbidden during the solemn fast of Lent, eggs were reintroduced on Easter Sunday, both as part of the feasting and as gifts for family, friends, and servants.

Anonymous (1913)


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