History of Easter Eggs
From their Origins to the Chocolate Egg

The egg's ancient symbolism of fertility and rebirth predates Christianity.  Eggs have been symbolic since ancient times. They have often played the role of representing life itself, but also have been a sacred symbol.  According to some pagan and mythological beliefs of the past, the heavens and Earth were considered two hemispheres that joined together to create a single egg, while the Ancient Egyptians considered the egg as the centrepiece of the four elements of the universe (fire, earth, water and air).
Decorated Easter Eggs
Decorated Easter Eggs in eggcups
Photo by Andrea Kratzenberg

Many centuries before Christ's birth, the exchange of eggs at the spring Equinox in the month of March was a custom that celebrated winter's end and the beginning of a season marked by the blooming of nature. To obtain a good harvest, farmers would bury eggs in farmland.

The tradition of the gift of eggs is documented by the ancient Persians, where simple chicken eggs were exchanged at the Advent of the spring season.  Over time, other ancient people took up the tradition, including the Ancient Egyptians, the Greeks and the Chinese. Often the eggs were rudimentarily decorated by  hand.
Faberge Egg
Faberge Egg
Picture by Alison Taylor

Christian Easter itself originates from the Jewish Passover celebration. Eggs also form a part of the Jewish Seder meal.   When the Christian Easter began to be celebrated, the pagan spring festivities were integrated into the holy celebration. The Christians started to see in the egg a symbol of Christ's resurrection.

It is however also widely accepted that the origin of Easter eggs is also related to the custom of  Lent. The Church prohibits the consumption of eggs for this forty day period. It was thus at the end of the fast a time to consume the eggs which had accumulated during Lent, by cooking and eating the most recently laid eggs, and by decorating the oldest.

The tradition of the Easter egg was noted among Coptic Christians at the end of the 10th Century.  The custom of exchanging decorated eggs as a gift then further developed later in the Middle Ages.  Turtle eggs, whose shells were decorated by means of various processes, were exchanged.  Often these were real works of art.

A new tradition also grew in the Middle Ages of creating artificial eggs made of, or covered in, precious materials like silver, platinum or gold, obviously destined for nobility and aristocrats. Edward I, King of England from 1272 until 1307, ordered the creation of about 450 eggs covered with gold to celebrate the Easter festivity.

The tradition of giving simple eggs as an Easter gift spread through Germany where colored eggs are first mentioned in the early 13th century.  In 1553 there were reports of red eggs with the Swieconka passover meal blessing. The name Osterei in Germany emerged for the first time in 1615 at Strasbourg. A first mention of the custom of hiding eggs for children originates from the diary of the abbott Jakob from the Schuttern monastery in the year 1691.

In France, the texts which speak about the tradition of coloring eggs as an easter gift relate to Alsace and go back to the 15th century.  It was said that Louis XIV, King of France from 1643 to 1715, would bless large gilded egg baskets which he gave to the courtiers and his domestic servant.

The rich tradition of the decorated egg was taken to fine artistic highs by the  goldsmith Peter Carl Fabergé, who in 1883 received from the Russian Tsar the task of preparing a special gift for the Tsarina Maria; the goldsmith created the first Faberge egg for the occasion. This was an egg of white enameled platinum containing another egg created in gold, which in turn contained two gifts: a reproduction of the imperial crown and a golden chick. The fame of the first Faberge egg helped to also spread the tradition of a gift inside the egg.
Basket of eggs completely made of chocolate
Chocolate Easter Egg Basket, completely made of chocolate.
By Emily Walton Jones

The first easter eggs made of chocolate were handmade using moulds in 19th century Europe.   Subsequently, mostly since the 20th century chocolate eggs, enhanced by a little gift inside, have become widespread. Whereas decades ago the preparation of classic chocolate eggs was entrusted to confectionary craft masters, today it is a mass market product. The preparation of Easter eggs of various sizes begins more than a month before Easter day, similar to what also happens for the Christmas tree in the Christmas period.
“Hunting for eggs” is an old tradition. Certain communities organize egg hunts for adults during Easter  weekend of Easter: in a limited area (generally a woodland), participants compete to discover the most eggs in an hour.  Lots of different types and styles of eggs are used, enabling people to make some very interesting finds.

Peculiarly, since 1878 the President of the USA has celebrated an annual Easter Egg roll for children in in the gardens of the White House.  Wooden spoons are used to roll the eggs, with the winner being the  one who rolls the furthest with

Interesting and Fun Easter Ideas:
Make a Hand Painted Easter Egg Tree
Easter Decorating Ideas for your Home
Easter Gifts at Piglette:
Solid Chocolate Bunny
Chocolate Covered Fruit
Winnie The Pooh Figurine Easter Gifts
Easter Petits Fours
Egg-shaped Aquamarine Jewelry Pendant Necklace
Chocolate Roses
Easter Chocolates and Truffles
Red Roses
More Easter Bunny Gifts
Chocolate Easter Eggs
Fascinating facts:
History of Easter Eggs from their Origins to the Chocolate Egg
Origins of the Tradition of Decorating and Coloring Easter Eggs
Easter Egg Customs and Traditions around the World

The History of Mother's Day The History of Halloween
History and Legends of the Basil Plant Mistletoe Traditions and History

History of Wedding Ring Customs and Engagement Ring Tradition Origin of the The Honeymoon Tradition
Wedding Dress History and Meaning of the Bridal Veil History of the Wedding Cake and Wedding March Music

The interesting History of Hydrogen Balloons and Airships at WindUpBattery.com

Home to discover more interesting seasonal facts, gardening and fractal art plus much more at Piglette.