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What's the story behind Easter eggs?

 What’s the story behind Easter eggs? (Photo: iStock)

Every year we look forward to different traditions and holidays that we celebrate. We have holidays that we celebrate as a country, like Labour Day, and we also have some that are celebrated worldwide, like Christmas and Easter.

When we look at these global celebrations like Easter, we often don't stop and think about what we are celebrating, where these traditions come from and what they mean to us. These are holidays that we have enjoyed since childhood, and of course we have carried them forward.

At the moment the world is looking forward to Easter. For some, this means putting up the Easter bunny decorations and preparing for the famous egg hunts. But the real question is, where is the connection between Easter and decorated eggs? And who is the Easter Bunny?

These are some of the questions we should ask ourselves to understand the traditions we are taking part in. If you're curious about Easter eggs, here's a quick rundown:

Easter eggs aren't originally a Christian concept

Easter is a holiday that's mostly associated with Christianity. You will even see decorated eggs in churches during this time, and some even go as far as to organise egg hunts around this time.

Although this tradition of Easter eggs and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are now thought to be the same thing, they're not.

Easter eggs have their roots in pagan traditions and are meant to celebrate Eostre/Ishtar, an ancient goddess.

Eggs symbolise rebirth

The egg is a central part of the Easter celebrations and has many symbolic meanings. According to pagan traditions, the egg represented the new life of spring.

Modern Christianity has adopted the symbol of the egg to signify the resurrection of Christ. They have linked this meaning of new life of the cracked egg with the resurrection of Jesus.

The tradition of colouring eggs marks the coming of spring

One of the things people often do at Easter is to decorate eggs. They're dyed and painted in all sorts of patterns, and this too has its roots in pagan traditions.

Originally these eggs were dyed with the blood of sacrifices as part of their rituals and this tradition has evolved into what we see today.

Nowadays they are dyed all sorts of colours to represent the rebirth of spring after winter.

Egg hunt to symbolise the empty tomb

The egg hunt is probably one of the main highlights for people who celebrate Easter. It's a game in which hard-boiled eggs, chocolate eggs or other types of decorated eggs are hidden in different places for children to find.

It is said that when these traditions were absorbed into Christianity, this activity of egg hiding came into being. Hiding the eggs is meant to symbolise the tomb, and when they're found, it's a celebration of the discovery of the empty tomb.

The Easter Bunny as a sign of fertility

The Easter Bunny is also an important part of these traditions. In pagan belief, the rabbit, which lays eggs, is a symbol of fertility and is celebrated in honour of Eostre/Ishtar.

The rabbit was originally a hare, but the concept of a rabbit has become more popular with this holiday, also for commercial purposes.

And although these traditions are enjoyed and celebrated by Christians, once again this is not a biblical concept but rather very pagan in its meaning and nature.

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