pysanky]], bearing the Paschal greeting in Ukranian "Christ is Risen!" This Easter egg is dyed red, as is done traditionally, in order to represent the blood of Christ. Han ck kraslice, Easter eggs from the Han region, the Czech Republic, decorated with straw Easter eggs are special eggs that are often given to celebrate Easter or springtime. Easter eggs are common during Eastertide as they symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus. Though an egg appears to be like the stone of a tomb, a bird hatches from it with life; similarly, the Easter egg, for Christians, is a reminder that Jesus rose from the grave, and that those who believe will also experience eternal life.
The custom of the Easter egg originated amongst the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion. The Christian Church officially adopted the custom, regarding the eggs as a symbol of the resurrection; in A.D. 1610, Pope Paul V proclaimed the following prayer:
Although the tradition is to use dyed or painted chicken eggs, a modern custom is to substitute chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs filled with confectionery such as jelly beans. These eggs can be hidden for children to find on Easter morning, which may be left by the Easter Bunny. They may also be put in a basket filled with real or artificial straw to resemble a bird's nest.
- Lenten tradition
- Decoration and symbolism
- Easter egg traditions
- Easter eggs for the visually impaired
- Easter eggs from different countries
- Christian traditions
- Parallels in other faiths
- Variations in popular culture
- See also
- External links
Pascha]] (Easter) in Lviv, Ukraine The Easter egg tradition may also have merged into the celebration of the end of the privations of Lent in the West. Historically, it was traditional to use up all of the household's eggs before Lent began. Eggs were originally forbidden during Lent as well as on other traditional fast days in Western Christianity (this tradition still continues among the Eastern Christian Churches). Likewise, in Eastern Christianity, both meat and dairy are prohibited during the Lenten fast, and eggs are seen as "dairy" (a foodstuff that could be taken from an animal without shedding its blood) . This established the tradition of Pancake Day being celebrated on Shrove Tuesday. This day, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins, is also known as Mardi Gras, a French phrase which translates as "Fat Tuesday" to mark the last consumption of eggs and dairy before Lent begins.
In the Orthodox Church, Great Lent begins on Clean Monday, rather than Wednesday, so the household's dairy products would be used up in the preceding week, called Cheesefare Week. During Lent, since chickens would not stop producing eggs during this time, a larger than usual store might be available at the end of the fast if the eggs had not been allowed to hatch. The surplus, if any, had to be eaten quickly to prevent spoiling. Then, with the coming of Easter, Pascha the eating of eggs resumes.
One would have been forced to hard boil the eggs that the chickens produced so as not to waste food, and for this reason the Spanish dish hornazo (traditionally eaten on and around Easter) contains hard-boiled eggs as a primary ingredient. In Hungary, eggs are used sliced in potato casseroles around the Easter period.
Decoration and symbolism
Blessing of Easter foods ( wi conka) in Poland Embroidered Easter eggs. Works by Inna Forostyuk, the folk master from the Luhansk region (Ukraine) Decorating Candle dripped Easter eggs from South Bend, IN, USA made using a PAAS kit. Serbian Easter eggs Easter eggs from the Czech Republic decorated by boiling with onion skins In the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, Easter eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ, shed on the Cross, and the hard shell of the egg symbolized the sealed Tomb of Christ the cracking of which symbolized his resurrection from the dead. Easter eggs are blessed by the priest at the end of the Paschal Vigil (which is equivalent to Holy Saturday), and distributed to the faithful. Each household also brings an Easter basket to church, filled not only with Easter eggs but also with other Paschal foods such as paskha, kulich or Easter breads, and these are blessed by the priest as well. . The egg is seen by followers of Christianity as a symbol of resurrection: while being dormant it contains a new life sealed within it.
Similarly, in the Roman Catholic Church in Poland, the so-called wi conka, i.e. blessing of decorative baskets with a sampling of Easter eggs and other symbolic foods, is one of the most enduring and beloved Polish traditions on Holy Saturday.
During Paschaltide, in some traditions the Pascal greeting with the Easter egg is even extended to the deceased. On either the second Monday or Tuesday of Pascha, after a memorial service people bring blessed eggs to the cemetery and bring the joyous paschal greeting, "Christ has risen", to their beloved departed (see Radonitza).
Easter eggs are a widely popular symbol of new life in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and other Central European countries' folk traditions. A batik (wax resist) process is used to create intricate, brilliantly colored eggs, the best-known of which is the Ukrainian pysanka and the Polish pisanka. The celebrated Faberg workshops created exquisite jewelled Easter eggs for the Russian Imperial Court. Most of these creations themselves contained hidden surprises such as clock-work birds, or miniature ships. A 27-foot (9 m) sculpture of a pysanka stands in Vegreville, Alberta.
There are many other decorating techniques and numerous traditions of giving them as a token of friendship, love or good wishes. A tradition exists in some parts of the United Kingdom (such as Scotland and North East England) of rolling painted eggs down steep hills on Easter Sunday. In the U.S., such an Easter egg roll (unrelated to an eggroll) is often done on flat ground, pushed along with a spoon; the Easter Egg Roll has become a much-loved annual event on the White House lawn. An Easter egg hunt is a common festive activity, where eggs are hidden outdoors (or indoors if in bad weather) for children to run around and find. This may also be a contest to see who can collect the most eggs.
When boiling eggs for Easter, a popular tan colour can be achieved by boiling the eggs with onion skins. A greater variety of colour was often provided by tying on the onion skin with different coloured woollen yarn. In the North of England these are called pace-eggs or paste-eggs, from a dialectal form of Middle English pasche. They were usually eaten after an egg-jarping (egg-tapping) competition.
Easter egg traditions
Pace eggs. An egg hunt is a game during which decorated eggs, real hard-boiled ones or artificial ones filled with, or made of chocolate candies, of various sizes, are hidden for children to find, both indoors and outdoors.
When the hunt is over, prizes may be given for the largest number of eggs collected, or for the largest or the smallest egg.
Real eggs may further be used in egg tapping contests.
In the North of England, at Eastertime, a traditional game is played where hard boiled pace eggs are distributed and each player hits the other player's egg with their own. This is known as "egg tapping", "egg dumping" or "egg jarping". The winner is the holder of the last intact egg. The losers get to eat their eggs. The annual egg jarping world championship is held every year over Easter in Peterlee Cricket Club. It is also practiced in Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Lebanon, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, and other countries. They call it tucanje . In parts of Austria, Bavaria and German-speaking Switzerland it is called Ostereiertitschen or Eierpecken. In parts of Europe it is also called epper, presumably from the German name Opfer, meaning "offering" and in Greece it is known as tsougrisma. In South Louisiana this practice is called Pocking Eggs and is slightly different. The Louisiana Creoles hold that the winner eats the eggs of the losers in each round.
The central European Slavic nations (Czechs and Slovaks etc.) have a tradition of gathering eggs by gaining them from the females in return of whipping them with a pony-tail shaped whip made out of fresh willow branches and splashing them with water, by the Ruthenians called polivanja, which is supposed to give them health and beauty.
Egg rolling is also a traditional Easter egg game played with eggs at Easter. In the United Kingdom, Germany, and other countries children traditionally rolled eggs down hillsides at Easter. This tradition was taken to the New World by European settlers, and continues to this day each Easter on the White House lawn.
Different nations have different versions of the game.
Egg dance is a traditional Easter game in which eggs are laid on the ground or floor and the goal is to dance among them without damaging any eggs which originated in Germany. In the UK the dance is called the hop-egg.
The Pace Egg plays are traditional village plays, with a rebirth theme. The drama takes the form of a combat between the hero and villain, in which the hero is killed and brought to life, The plays take place in England during Easter.
In some Mediterranean countries, especially in Lebanon, chicken eggs are boiled and decorated by dye and/or painting and used as decoration around the house. Then, on Easter Day, young kids would duel with them saying 'Christ is resurrected, Indeed He is', breaking and eating them.
In Germany, eggs decorate trees and bushes as Easter egg trees, and in several areas public wells as Osterbrunnen.
In Egypt, it's a tradition to decorate boiled eggs during Sham el-Nessim holiday, which falls every year after the Eastern Christian Easter.
Cascarones, a North-Eastern Mexican tradition now shared by many in South Texas, are an emptied and dried chicken egg stuffed with confetti and sealed with a piece of tissue paper. The eggs are hidden in a similar tradition to the American Easter egg hunt and when found the children (and adults) break them over each others heads.
Easter eggs for the visually impaired
Beeping Easter eggs are Easter eggs that emit various clicks and noises so that the visually impaired children can easily hunt for Easter eggs.
Some beeping Easter eggs make a single, high-pitched sound, while other types of beeping Easter eggs play a melody.
Since 2008, the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators (IABTI) have sponsored a nationwide charity campaign in the U.S., building beeping Easter eggs every year for visually impaired children.
Easter eggs from different countries
File:Czech easter eggs 2005-03-26 00.jpeg | Easter eggs from the Czech Republic File:Drapanka003.jpg | Drapanka from Poland File:Drapanka002.jpg | Drapanka from Poland File:Vajicka1.jpg | Basket of Easter eggs File:Paskagg1.jpg | Easter eggs from Sweden File:American Easter Eggs 2800px.jpg | American Easter eggs from Washington File:Egg dyr.jpg | Easter eggs from France File:Oua impistrite bucovina.jpg | Easter egg from Romania File:Egg dekorerte.jpg File:Belarusian Easter Eggs.jpg | Belarusian Easter Eggs. File:Jajka Wielkanoc.jpg |Polish Easter eggs, see also Pisanka (Polish)
While the origin of Easter eggs can be explained in the symbolic terms described above, a sacred tradition among followers of Eastern Christianity says that Mary Magdalene was bringing cooked eggs to share with the other women at the tomb of Jesus, and the eggs in her basket miraculously turned brilliant red when she saw the risen Christ.The egg represents the boulder of the tomb of Jesus.
A different, but not necessarily conflicting legend concerns Mary Magdalene's efforts to spread the Gospel. According to this tradition, after the Ascension of Jesus, Mary went to the Emperor of Rome and greeted him with "Christ has risen," whereupon he pointed to an egg on his table and stated, "Christ has no more risen than that egg is red." After making this statement it is said the egg immediately turned blood red.
Parallels in other faiths
The egg is widely used as a symbol of the start of new life, just as new life emerges from an egg when the chick hatches out.
The ancient Zoroastrians painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration, which falls on the Spring equinox. The Nowrooz tradition has existed for at least 2,500 years. The sculptures on the walls of Persepolis show people carrying eggs for Nowrooz to the king.
There are good grounds for the association between hares (later termed Easter bunnies) and eggs, through folklore confusion between hares' forms (where they raise their young) and plovers' nests.
There are also parallels (though no direct connection) between the easter egg tradition and the celebration of Passover in Judaism, notable because in Christian tradition, Christ was celebrating Passover with his diciples on the evening before Good Friday. An egg is one of the components of a traditional Seder plate, a traditional centerpiece of the Passover meal. The tradition of hiding easter eggs for children to find is also similar to another Passover tradition, whereby the head of the household hides a piece of matza (the "afikomen") during the meal. After the meal, the children search the home for the afikomen, and are rewarded once it is found.
Variations in popular culture
Easter eggs have inspired the form of many similar objects both precious and mundane, including chocolate eggs, monuments, and the famous Faberg eggs. File:Easter-Eggs-1.jpg |Foil-wrapped chocolate Easter eggs. File:Ostereier-Wien.jpg |Easter eggs from Vienna, Austria File:Vegreville pysanka August 2008.jpg |Easter egg monument in Vegreville, Alberta File:Zagrebacko uskrsnje jaje 4 050409.jpg |Easter egg or pisanica in Zagreb, Croatia File:Peterthegreategg.JPG |The Peter the Great Egg, commissioned by Czar Alexander III as an Easter surprise for his wife.
- Egg decorating in Slavic culture
- Faberg egg
- Festum Ovorum
- Pisanica (Croatian)
- Pisanka (Polish)
- Pysanka (Ukrainian)
- Sham El Nessim
- wi conka
- Easter egg (media)
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