Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter, eggs and that bunny

Why the connection between eggs and Easter? It is not the chocolate manufacturer's gimmick.

Eggs were forbidden during Lent, but they were also a Christian symbol. An egg symbolises rebirth and renewal. New life. Easter eggs used to be called Pace (or Passion) eggs. Although most people give a chocolate eggs in Britain, people in many other countries still decorate hard boiled eggs for gifts. In Greece, as far as I can recall, the eggs are dyed red to symbolise the Lord's Passion. So there is a religous significance to eating eggs on Easter.

The word Easter most probably comes from the Anglo Saxon goddess Oestre. One of her animals was the hare. It should be noted that the Lord's Passion was more than likely celebrated in Britain BEFORE any rites to Oestre as the Saxon did not arrive until the 5th century. Christianity was definitely wide-spread in Northumberland during the 4th century -- IE the one found at Vindolanda. Another example would be Constantine the Great's acclamation at York in 306. Much was lost when the pagan Saxons invaded. When the Anglo-Saxons were Christianized, the festival's name stayed the same and the meaning changed. Oestre's fertility rites happened in the Spring.

The Easter bunny is Germanic and a relatively recent addition in Britain. As the Saxons were a Germanic people, it is possible that this is a hang over from the Oestre fertility rites. Germanic references to an Easter hare stretch back to the 1500s. Another version of the old hare v rabbit arguement -- is the Easter bunny really a hare?

The making of chocolate eggs of course happened during the Victorian period. This is because of technological innovations. Many people of course give up chocolate for Lent.

This is just in case anyone is interested.

Sold and Seduced went on sale in the UK yesterday (officially) I need to get a photo of it.

Happy Easter to one and all. May you enjoy your Pace eggs, even if you didn't know they had another meaning.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was in town the other day and saw your book on the shelves near mine (and yes, of course I shuffled the shelves so yours had the best position in the historicals *g*). Didn't have camera with me, though - sorry! I will try harder next week...

Interesting thoughts on eggs. At our school Easter assembly, the vicar also mentioned hollow eggs symbolising Christ's empty tomb. (And even better, she shared said egg with the governors and PTA when we were getting the hall straight afterwards...)

And the word verification on this post was chicr - almost a chick...