2nd April 2015 at 3:36pm
Easter – Have a cracking one!
Sunday 5 April will mark Easter this year. You may well have been aware of Easter’s steady approach for some time now, given supermarkets seemed to replace their reduced price Christmas confectionery with rows of Easter treats a while back!
The roots of Easter
With the big day imminent, we’ve been doing a spot of research into the back story behind Easter. Yes, it’s one of the oldest and most important Christian festivals, but it’s also a festival that predates its place in the Christian calendar.
The roots of an Easter festival and many of its recognised traditions and activities can in fact be traced back to pagan celebrations. The name Easter is believed to come from Eostara, the goddess of rebirth. In early times, the feast of Eostara, held near the time of the spring equinox (when the length of the day and night are equal), celebrated earth’s Resurrection and rebirth.
And throughout history, many cultures have celebrated this as a time of rebirth and renewal following the darkness of winter, with rabbits and eggs seen as the most potent symbols of this fertility. These remain linked with Easter to this day.
So how have we venerated the humble Easter eggs over the years? We’ve beaten together these hard boiled facts to help you get under the shell of our favourite Easter treat.
The practice of decorating eggs is ancient. Finds in Africa show that people were carving symbolic patterns into ostrich eggs as early as 60,000 years ago.
The custom of giving eggs at Easter has been traced back to Egyptians, Gauls, Persians, Greeks and Romans, to whom the egg was a symbol of life.
Medieval Easter eggs were boiled with onions to give them a golden sheen. Edward I, however, went one better and in 1290, he ordered 450 eggs to be covered in gold leaf and given as Easter gifts.
The first chocolate Easter egg was produced in 1873 by Fry’s. Before this, people would give hollow cardboard eggs, filled with gifts.
The famous ‘crocodile’ finish that you see on Easter eggs came from Germany and was originally designed to cover up any minor imperfections in the chocolate.
In 2007, an Easter egg covered in diamonds sold for almost £9 million. Every hour, a cockerel made from jewels pops up from the top of the Faberge egg, flaps its wings four times, nods its head three times and makes a crowing noise.
The tallest chocolate Easter egg measured 10.39m in height.
If you’re still scrambling to do something on Sunday after your egg hunt and egg roll, can we suggest a spot of egg harping. Egg jarping is an Easter game similar to conkers, with players tapping their opponent’s hard boiled eggs until one breaks – we think it sounds cracking fun!