Somewhere in the folds of time, the acknowledgement of the death of Jesus Christ and the Pagan celebration of spring and fertility collided and meshed into what we now know as Easter.
During the 13th century in Germany, the goddess of spring and fertility was worshipped around this time of year. Her name was Teutonic deity Eostra and her symbol was a rabbit – an animal that has no problem reproducing. A perfect creature to represent fertility.
In 1680 – still in Germany – a story of an egg (the beginning of all life) laying rabbit was published and became very popular. Within 20 years, people were making baskets to place in their garden as this famous rabbit was known to hide his eggs in the gardens of those children who were good. This German story was called Osterhase, which basically translates into the ‘Easter Hare’. In early illustrations of this tale, it is shown to be a hare and not a rabbit. With the emmigration of Germans to the United States during the 1700’s, this story travelled with them. It caught on!
Around this time, the Christian element came into this story by the Roman Catholics. The end of winter was the time of the ‘Lent Fast’ where eggs were one of the foods not to be eaten. So you can imagine when this fast came to an end in spring time, eggs were around in abundance. The egg represented ‘new life’ and the ‘resurrection of Jesus Christ’ who rose from the grave after 3 days, bringing forgiveness of sins and everlasting life to believers. Eggs have 3 main components, 3 days…fits well really.
The beginning of the decorating of Easter Eggs is not known. Before these were made of chocolate, the eggs were swapped for other treats, goodies and gifts. It is believed that the introduction of colour was to represent the new blossoms and flowering of spring.
The chocolate Easter Egg came into being during the 19th century. They first appeared in France and Germany. As the hollow egg mould proved to be a trying invention for quite a few decades, the first were made of solid chocolate and at times, had icing decorations on the outside.
Cadbury produced its first chocolate Easter Egg for purchase in 1875. They had begun experimenting with the idea as far back as the 1840’s.