Tuesday 7 April 2015

Origin of Easter Eggs

OK, so Easter is over now, the bunny is gone and all you have left are some eggs. But how did eggs get associated with Easter?

For the answer you have to go back to the early rules of the Catholic Church, in particular those surrounding the period of Lent. I wrote about some of the prohibition of eating certain foods in the lead-up to Easter in my blog post of January 27, 2015. Religious laws of both the Catholic and Protestant churches actually came out of older Jewish practices. Eating flesh or meat products was particularly forbidden during certain days although, in England in the 16th and 17th centuries this had more to do with protecting the fishing industry than religious reasons.

At any rate, other products, such as eggs and milk were also on the list of foods to be avoided because they came from animals whose flesh was also eaten. This put the farmers in a bit of a bind because they could not stop the chickens from laying eggs and, with no one to eat them, the stockpile grew.

Finally at Easter, with eating prohibitions lifted, poultry owners could distribute the eggs. With so many in abundance by that time, the price would have dropped significantly. The answer was to just give them away, quickly, while they were still reasonably fresh and edible. And so the tradition was established!

How they got to be coloured is a whole other story which you can read about here and here and here. And that Easter Bunny? Check him out, along with the eggs, here and here.
Picture uploaded from Pinterest.
 Hope you had a Happy Easter!

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.