Why do we eat Easter eggs? The tradition of chocolate egg treats and the origins of the Easter bunny explained for the 2022 holiday

Why do we eat chocolate eggs at Easter? (photo: Getty Images)

The religious holiday and accompanying holidays were originally intended to be a time of reflection on the life of Jesus Christ.

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But why do we eat chocolate eggs at this time of year – and when did this tradition originate?

Here’s what you need to know.

Why are eggs a symbol of Easter?

We keep wondering why eggs are a symbol of Easter.

But there’s a good reason for that.

Eggs contain new life and can therefore be representative of rebirth.

Thus, they were first given and received as gifts to mark the arrival of the spring season – a tradition that has coalesced into an Easter staple over time.

Children usually take part in an Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday (Image: Getty Images/Gareth Copley)

Since Christians were not allowed to eat eggs and other fats during Lent, eating one on Easter Sunday was considered a special treat.

Eggs that came out on Good Friday were said to turn into diamonds if kept for 100 years.

And if your egg had a double yolk, it was believed that you would soon become rich.

Slightly disgusting, some people thought there were fertility benefits and other health benefits if you cooked your eggs on Good Friday and then ate them on Easter Sunday.

When was the tradition of chocolate Easter eggs born?

As with most seasonal chocolate products, Easter eggs have only become popular relatively recently.

But they predate chocolate Advent calendars by about 100 years.

The first British chocolate egg was sold by Fry’s in 1873, and Cadbury’s launched a version two years later in 1875.

Easter eggs were made with dark chocolate and were quite simple in their early years.

However, in 1897 Cadbury’s first introduced its Dairy Milk Chocolate – a recipe that quickly made Easter eggs and proved popular.

So popular, in fact, that milk chocolate is the predominant flavor of Easter eggs sold these days.

That’s if you go for a “traditional” Easter egg.

You can now buy all kinds of Easter chocolates, like Cadbury Creme eggs, Lindt bunnies and Percy pig-shaped pink chocolate.

What are the other Easter traditions related to eggs?

There are two other egg-related traditions in the UK that have died out somewhat.

One is to decorate hard-boiled eggs by coating them with dye or painting them, before adding additional decorations like glitter or faux gems.

Another is egg rolling – a game of rolling decorated hard-boiled eggs down a hill and seeing which egg travels the farthest.

It’s still a feature of Easter celebrations in the US – most notably at the annual White House Easter celebration – but it’s usually only found in Preston, Lancashire, here in the UK.

Easter egg hunting is an increasingly popular activity these days.

What is the Easter Bunny?

A key character in any Easter egg hunt is the Easter Bunny.

The rabbit is said to jump into houses before Easter Sunday to hide Easter eggs, which the children must then find.

There are many theories about the origins of the Easter Bunny.

One school of thought is that the rabbit originates from the ancient pagan festival of Eostre, which honored the goddess of fertility and spring.

It is believed that his animal symbol was a rabbit.

Meanwhile, in America, some people believe the Easter Bunny was introduced in the 1700s by German immigrants to Pennsylvania.

Their laying hare, known as ‘Osterhase’ or ‘Oschter Haws’, was said to lay colored eggs as gifts to well-behaved children.

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Alicia R. Rucker