Origin of the Easter Egg
Post by Simply Jennifer
Did you know that the origin of Easter has pagan roots?
Historians believe the word “Easter” is derived from the Anglo Saxon “Eostre,” the ancient goddess of spring. Because of spring’s common association of new life, it’s thought that Christians adopted parts of Eostre’s name and meaning to describe Christ’s resurrection.
Christians also adopted the pagan symbolism of the egg. New life emerges from the egg. Pagan cultures used eggs during their spring festivals to symbolize this idea of re-emergence, of starting anew. As time passed and Christianity was formed, Christians carried over the egg’s symbolism into their faith. Many believe the Christian symbol of the Easter egg stems from the idea that Jesus’ tomb is like the womb that holds the egg. When he rises from the dead, he breaks forth from the tomb (or egg), generating new life for all creation.
The practice of decorating eggs also pre-dates Christianity and the traditions we associate with Easter. During pagan times, when the focus was on earth’s regeneration, eggs were dyed bright colors to represent the gift of sunlight. The colored eggs were symbolic of spring’s transformation; the coming out of darkness and into light.
As centuries passed, egg decorating traditions evolved from culture to culture. During medieval times, the egg, long associated with fertility, was dyed and exchanged by lovers and admirers, much like valentines. People in the Ukraine used a brass tool called a Kistka to melt wax patterns onto eggs. After the eggs were dipped in dye, the wax would be peeled away to reveal a design of religious meaning. The Germans began the tradition of hollowing out Easter eggs.
They would decorate the emptied shells with lace, cloth, and ribbon before hanging them on trees or bushes. In Greece people continue to dye their eggs a deep crimson color, just as their ancestors did centuries before to honor the blood of Christ.
As Americans, we feel free to sample egg decorating traditions passed down from heritages other than our own. In its own way, the borrowing and blending makes us unique. We might try batiking our eggs like the Ukrainians to make intricate patterns, or, like Jane, we might blow out the yolks to make beautiful, fragile Easter trees. We boil them and place them in bright dyes. We paint stripes, zigzags and polka dots. We share, give eggs as gifts. We celebrate our beliefs. We celebrate spring and new beginnings. We create together. We make egg masterpieces.
How to Hollow out Eggs & Make an Egg Tree
Cut or find a branch from a tree in your yard or the woods and put in a bucket of water for a few days till your eggs are ready to hang. If you are lucky your branch may even sprout some leaves!
Take some raw eggs and poke a needle gently through the top and bottom of the egg. Break the yolk up a bit with your needle. Then blow gently but firmly on one of the holes of the egg over a bowl until all the insides are blown out. Now you have a nice empty egg ready to be decorated and hung on your Easter tree!
“Plant” your branch in a bucket filled with sand or rocks so it stands firmly upright. To hang your eggs – get a hot glue gun and some ribbon. Glue small loops of ribbon to one end of your eggs and then decorate them with markers or paint and hang on your tree!
Come on in and paint Easter eggs April 1-7, 2012 during open studio hours! Call 612-354-3961 for reservations.