Easter is just around the corner again and, whether you celebrate it or not, the season is always a great excuse for binging on chocolate. However, have you ever wondered what chocolate eggs have to do with Easter? Or why there must be a hunt at all. Well, you might be surprised that the tradition of Easter egg hunting isn’t some modern marketing ploy to trick us into eating way too much chocolate (not that we really need a reason to). Here, we tell you the origins of the Easter egg hunt.
FIRST OF ALL, WHY COLOURFUL EGGS?
Believe it or not, the tradition of painting eggs during the Springtime pre-dates Christianity. In many cultures, the egg is a symbol of new life, fertility, and rebirth, which explains why it was adopted by the Christians to embody the spirit of Easter. However, Iran, among other countries, have celebrated Nowruz by painting eggs for over three thousand years at the Spring Equinox and they weren’t alone, either. Ancient pagans are believed to have observed the return of the sun God by painting eggs at the exact same time, as well.
ALSO, WHY THE EASTER BUNNY?
We have pagans to thank for this aspect of Easter too, with their veneration of Ēostre, an ancient Germanic goddess who is also the namesake for Easter. Along with eggs, pagans also saw hares and rabbits as fertility symbols and these animals used to accompany the goddess during the Spring festival celebrated by pagan Anglo-Saxons, a festival that was later replaced by the Christian Paschal month in honour of Christ’s resurrection.
THESE TWO SYMBOLS WERE COMBINED AND GAVE US EASTER EGG HUNTS.
To be honest, nobody knows for certain the exact origin of the modern-day Easter egg hunt, but the general consensus is that we have Protestant German immigrants in Pennsylvania in the 1700s to thank, due mainly to their belief in the legend of the Osterhase. The original German Osterhase was a hare that laid eggs in the grass, but upon arrival in the USA in the 18th century, the story was adapted and children were told that if they were well-behaved and created nests inside their caps and bonnets, a rabbit would leave colourful eggs before Easter.
Thus, the story of the Easter Bunny and the modern-day Easter egg hunt were born.
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