(WETM) — You see them everywhere during the Easter season, as decorations, in the form of different confections, and of course, brightly colored and scattered across lawns and gardens. Easter Eggs have been an Easter staple for hundreds of years, but why?
According to History.com, Easter eggs have their origins in pagan traditions, with the egg being an ancient symbol for fertility and new life.
In the Christian tradition, the eggs are said to represent the resurrection of Jesus and his emergence from the tomb in which he was buried.
When it comes to eggs being decorated and hunted, the tradition goes back centuries. English-heritage.org, a charity based in England responsible for caring for over 400 historic buildings, monuments, and sites, says that eggs were decorated and given as gifts at the end of Lent, since in medieval times, eating eggs was forbidden during the 40-day period before Easter. Once the fast was broken, it was popular amongst poorer households to eat eggs as a meat replacement, since meat was expensive for many.
The Easter egg hunt that we have become so familiar with, comes from Germany, along with the Easter Bunny.
English-heritage.org says that the tradition of hiding the eggs originates in the 16th century, when Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, would hold egg hunts. The eggs were hidden so that women and children would go and find them.
The hunt brings in ties the story of Jesus’ resurrection, with the eggs representing the tomb that the women found.
Like the egg hunt, the Easter Bunny comes from German tradition, with the first written mention of the mythical rabbit being referenced as an Easter Hare in a 1682 essay called De ovis paschalibus (About Easter eggs) written by Georg Franck von Franckenau.
Rabbits have associations with fertility and with the Virgin Mary, and thus are tied into the Christian traditions.
History.com states that German immigrants brought their cultures with them in the 1700s when they settled in Pennsylvania, with Easter traditions being one of them.
The custom of an egg-laying rabbit that laid colorful eggs in nests made by children spread across the United States, further expanding to adding candy and chocolate as gifts.
Today, Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in the U.S., and according to the National Confectioners Association, over 16 billion Jelly beans are made each year just for Easter.
According to History.com, associating candies and sweets with Easter dates back to early 19th-century Europe.
Egg-shaped candies come in all forms today, from chocolates to hard candies, to jelly beans and so much more.
Eggs play a critical role in Easter and have for centuries, and although it might seem weird to associate Easter with eggs, know it has a very deep history.