Christians celebrate Easter to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some aspects of modern Easter celebrations, however, pre-date Christianity.
In Medieval Europe, eggs were forbidden during Lent. Eggs laid during that time were often boiled or otherwise preserved. Eggs were thus a mainstay of Easter meals, and a prized Easter gift for children and servants.
In addition, eggs have been viewed as symbols of new life and fertility through the ages. It is believed that for this reason many ancient cultures, including the Ancient Egyptians, Persians, and Romans, used eggs during their spring festivals.
Many traditions and practices have formed around Easter eggs. The coloring of eggs is a established art, and eggs are often dyed, painted, and otherwise decorated. Eggs were also used in various holiday games: parents would hide eggs for children to find, and children would roll eggs down hills. These practices live on in Easter egg hunts and egg rolls. The most famous egg roll takes place on the White House lawn every year.
For Christians the egg is a symbol of Jesus’ resurrection, as when they are cracked open they stand for the empty tomb. No-one actually knows when eggs were first used as symbols at festival times but it was long before Jesus’ time. Eggs were always thought to be special because although they do not seem alive, they have life within them especially at springtime when chicks hatch out.
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