They’re cute, colorful, and hunted by kids every Easter. How on earth did eggs become associated with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?
My Pope Philippines traces the beginnings of this popular and beloved token of the Lenten season. Read on to learn some fun facts about Easter! (Read: Five things to know about Palm Sunday)
#1: The first Easter eggs were actually ostrich eggs
The practice of adorning eggs appears to have begun in Africa, where researchers discovered decorated and engraved ostrich eggshells estimated to be 60,000 years old! Symbols of life, death, and even royalty, gold-and silver-painted ostrich eggs were also left in Sumerian and Egyptian tombs some 5,000 years ago.
#2: The word “Easter” originated from the name “Eastre”
Eastre is a pagan Anglo-Saxon goddess. Festivities that honored her at the beginning of spring included eating eggs and burying them in the ground for fertility purposes. (Read: The 500-Year History of Catholicism in the Philippines)
#3: The Church associates eggs with Christ’s rising from the tomb
Among early Christians, it was the Mesopotamians who first colored eggs in red to symbolize the blood Jesus shed in His crucifixion. Eventually, the Church associated the egg with Christ’s resurrection—specifically, the cracking of the egg represents His rising from the tomb.
#4: Easter eggs also symbolice the end of fasting and abstinence
In the 13th century, people were prohibited from consuming eggs during Lent. So they colored eggs and only ate them on Easter, marking the end of fasting and abstinence and a day of celebration for the Risen Lord. (Read: What’s the Difference Between Fasting and Abstinence?)
#5: You can color Easter eggs by boiling them in natural substances
Beets, for instance, turn them pink! You can also color them with a mixture of half a cup of water, a teaspoon of vinegar, and liquid food coloring. To dye your own Easter eggs, watch this video!
#6: Easter egg games were created to celebrate the end of Lent
There’s the classic Easter egg hunt where children search for colorful eggs (dyed chicken eggs, chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs with a treat inside) hidden indoors or outdoors. There’s also the Easter egg roll which challenges participants to roll an egg across a predetermined course to the finish line. The practice symbolizes the rolling away of the stone blocking the tomb where Jesus was buried.