Whyte & Brown: Free Range Chicken

What came first, the chicken or the Easter egg?

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It’s widely known that Easter is a celebration of Christ’s reincarnation, but this holiday also has pagan origins that have withstood Christianity. Eggs, bunnies and baby chickens are just some of a myriad of Easter’s insignia, all symbolising rebirth and new life, but where did they come from?

Easter falls in spring, a time when the earth wakes up and dusts off winter’s frost. Many trace the word ‘Easter’ to the pagan goddess Eostre, who is associated with the season of the growing sun. And then there’s that mysterious Easter Bunny; theory has it that this character arose as a symbol of fertility, due to the rapid reproduction habits of the hare and rabbit.

The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hindus all believed the world began with an enormous egg, thus the egg as a symbol of new life has been around for eons. The first book found to mention Easter eggs was written five hundred years ago. However, there is evidence that a Christian North African tribe had a custom of colouring eggs at Easter far predating this.

Fast forward and we find a note in the household accounts of Edward 1st outlining a receipt of eighteen pence for four hundred and fifty eggs to be gold-leafed and coloured for Easter gifts.

The tradition of the Egg was really bolstered when Christians began to give up meat and eggs during the Lent season and Easter day became the first chance to enjoy eggs after the long abstinence. Of course, the hangover of this tradition is still tangible, with most of us indulging in a well-deserved chocolate egg (or three…) on Easter day.