And here comes the Easter Bunny, joyfully – and somewhat illogically – laying eggs in nests of hay scattered around the garden.
The traditional Easter Egg Hunt was something our children loved and eggs were discovered in the strangest of places.
Despite an egg-laying bunny being completely against nature, it’s just one of the tall tales we’re happy to accept when we’re young.
But the real history of Easter eggs is long, sometimes dark and occasionally blood-spattered.
People have been giving gifts of eggs long before there was any Easter to celebrate.
Decorated and engraved ostrich eggs more than 60,000 years old have been found in Africa.
Early cultures of Mesopotamia and Crete associated eggs with death, rebirth and kingship.
The ancient Sumerians and Egyptians placed gold and silver eggs in the graves of the powerful to signify their status in the next world.
The custom of eggs at Easter-tide began among the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs with red colouring to represent the blood shed during Christ’s crucifixion. Much later the egg became a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus.
So how did a simple boiled and coloured egg become the chocolate confection we offer up today to the gods of sugar and commerce? It seems likely that the Easter Egg tradition merged with other celebrations to mark the end of the Lent period and gradually became an excuse for indulgence.
In the 17th and 18th centuries egg-shaped toys became popular seasonal gifts and Victorian children could expect a cardboard egg, decorated with fancy fabrics and filled with Easter gifts and chocolates.
In the 19th century the Russians took this to the extreme with the gloriously jewelled creations of Carl Fabergé made specially for the uring Czar and Czarina.
Chocolate Easter eggs made their first appearance in Europe in the early 19th century, with France and Germany taking the lead. In the early days they were often solid confections, as the technique for moulding hadn’t yet been mechanised. Hollow eggs had to be individually crafted by layering chocolate paste into the moulds.
John Cadbury stepped into this breach in 1875, though it took several years to perfect the system that made the chocolate flow into the moulds, and by 1893 there were 19 different lines on the Cadbury Brothers Easter list in the UK.
For those who regret the passing of the solid chocolate egg (and can’t bear nibbling the ears off a hollow choccy bunny) The Solid Chocolate Egg Company does a whacking great 750g of chocolate chunks that fit jenga-like into the perfect ovoid shape.
The practice of giving up something decadent for Lent is widespread, even amongst people who don’t follow Christianity. In a study done in 2014, 88% of those who took part said they were giving up some item of food for 40 days, with chocolate being the number one denial.
Win a dozen Cadbury creme eggs
We don’t want you to give up chocolate – for Lent or at any other time!
So if you fancy a dozen deliciously delightful sweetly sticky Cadbury creme eggs, here’s our very own competition to help you indulge.
Taken from Pork Belly’s secret stash, we’re looking for 5 winners as we have have 5 boxes, each containing a dozen eggs, to give away.
STOP PRESS: Make that 6 winners as I’ve liberated another box from the Pork Belly stash!
All you need to do is answer the question in the Gleam widget below and you could be enjoying the 12 days of Easter and building a creme-egg-a-day habit!
Hint: The answer is in the article above
Open to UK residents only and you must enter before midnight UK time Tuesday 31 March so we can get your eggs to you in time for Easter.
Enjoy – because the creme eggs are on us!
5 random facts about Easter
- Easter Island got its name when the island’s first recorded European visitor, the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, discovered it on Easter Sunday in 1722. Its Polynesian name is Rapa Nui.
- Good Easter and High Easter are villages in Essex, just north of Chelmsford, but their names having nothing to do with the Christian festival. Instead they come from the Old English word ‘eowestre’ meaning a sheep fold.
- Whilst some say a Simnel cake is historically made for Mothering Sunday, most agree it’s traditionally an Easter cake, with the marzipan balls on top representing the apostles – either all 12 or 11 if you leave out Judas.
- There used to be a superstition that if you wore new clothes on Easter Day you would have good luck for the rest of the year. That’s probably the reason behind old Easter parades and Easter bonnets – for good luck.
- The aforementioned Easter bunny didn’t originally lay eggs. Instead she was the companion of the spring goddess worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons at the festival of Eastre and represented fertility.