The coming of Easter brings a renewal of faith and appreciation for the earthly sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. It signifies a time in which we return to the keystones of our religion and restore the strength in our spiritual pillars. For the children, however, it often heralds a different coming: coloring eggs, egg hunts, and of course, the Easter Bunny. How did these things become a hallmark of Christianity’s most important religious holiday? Here we explore the history of some popular Easter traditions.
Even before the Easter Bunny and eggs became solidified into Easter traditions, rabbits and eggs already had long-standing symbolic meanings. Both were commonly associated with new life, and eggs also represented rebirth. As Christianity became more widespread, symbols or traditions already prevalent in a particular culture were often appropriated with the new Christian faith.
In Europe, the first Easter Bunny story was documented in the 1500s. In the 1680s, Georg Franck Von Franckenau published about a German tradition involving an Easter Rabbit or Easter Hare. The legend portrays the Easter Bunny similar in character to a Santa Claus; he rewards good children with presents of colored eggs, candy and other gifts. These stories likely traveled to America through German immigrants and became anchored in our Easter traditions. Nests laid out for the rabbit to lay its egg later gave rise to the Easter baskets. Rewards and treats given to good children began to incorporate chocolate and other prizes.
There are varying accounts and legends explaining why we color Easter eggs. Some Easter eggs were originally colored red in memory of Christ’s blood. One account involves Mary Magdalene proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection to the emperor. The emperor pointed to a plain egg and declared it was no likelier than that egg turning red. As he spoke, that very egg indeed turned red. Another account tells of Mary Magdalene bringing a basket of eggs to the mourners by Jesus’ tomb. As they found the tomb empty, the eggs turned red. Other legends say the Virgin Mary handed out eggs to soldiers at the cross, and as her tears fell upon the eggs, they were stained different colors.
The tradition of hunting for Easter eggs is symbolic of the search for Jesus in his tomb. During the Lenten season, people often abstained from eating eggs and would hard-boil the eggs in order to preserve them. These eggs were then eaten on Easter. The eggs came to represent Jesus’ tomb, and cracking them open symbolized Jesus breaking from his tomb for the Resurrection.
As we delight in entertaining our children’s love for the whimsical Easter traditions, let us also remember to complement that with a strong commitment to our faith. Let us honor our Lord with His promise:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” John 11:25-26.
Remember to live and conduct ourselves in the presence of Jesus, to see His light and truth,
“But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:21
Let Egglo Eggs be that connection between a child’s Easter fun and seeing the light through Jesus. Our glow-in-the-dark eggs will be an added thrill to your celebrations and egg hunts, but also create lasting, memorable experiences for your child. We offer scripture scrolls that can be enclosed in the eggs, or stickers and books that can be added to your child’s Easter basket. If you teach groups of children or are just looking to strengthen your child’s spiritual connection, we offer a wonderful curriculum centered on the Egglo eggs, our adventure books and characters. Whatever your needs, Egglo is here to provide fun, meaningful accompaniment to your child’s religious enrichment.