AS you rip open the packaging and take a big chocolately bite of an egg this Easter, you probably won’t give second’s thought to where this strange tradition comes from.
But did you know the link between Eggs and Easter stems back thousands of years?
Here are some egg-citing facts......
• In Pagan times it was believed the egg had special powers and was buried under the foundations of buildings to ward off evil.
Brides stepped on an egg before entering their new homes and to give someone the gift of an egg meant you wished them many children.
• In fact, it is still a tradition in Scotland and North-East England to take part in ‘egg rolling’- which involves rolling eggs down steep hills. In America, the tradition of the Washington Easter Egg Roll dates back to at least 1872. Egg rolling, which symbolises the rolling away of the tomb of Jesus, is an ancient tradition and was very popular in the middle ages.
• Different countries have developed their own Easter egg traditions. It’s custom in Greece to exchange crimson-coloured eggs.
The red dye symbolises the blood of Christ and the egg represents new life.
In Guatemala, carpets of sawdust and flowers that measure up to a mile in length and people walk over them on their way to church.
• The first Fabergé egg was made as an Easter gift for the Empress of Russia in 1883 from her husband, Tsar Alexander.
• Bristol chocolatiers J.Fry & Sons made the first UK Easter egg in 1873- but it wasn’t like the tasty treats we know and love today.
Early Easter eggs were made from very bitter, dark chocolate and may have been decorated with marzipan.
Cadbury developed its first chocolate Easter egg in 1875
What about hot cross buns?
The tradition of making baked goods with a 'cross' stems back thousands of years and is from Pagan tradition, later adopted by Christians.
The cross was said to ward off evil spirits that might make the bread go mouldy or stale.
It is thought that the recipe for hot cross buns- studding bread with dried fruit- stems back to ancient Greece, in honour of the goddess of spring and dawn, Eostre.
Elizabeth I passed a law in around 1592 banning the sale of hot cross buns, except for on Good Friday, Christmas and burials.
Easter parades and bonnets
There is said to be an old superstition that wearing new clothes at Easter would bring good luck for the rest of the year.
The first 'Easter' bonnets can actually be traced back further than the tradition of Easter itself and were bands of flowers and leaves which symbolised the seasons and the beginning of spring.
In Mid-1800s New York, the upper classes would parade through the streets after the Easter church services parading their finery. Today the tradition of the New York Easter parade continues- but it's far more wackier.