For many people and religions across the world, eggs are a symbol of life, renewal and rebirth, with these sort of themes dating back through thousands of years. But why do we give Easter eggs?
Lots of different religions view eggs in a special way. During pagan times it was believed that eggs had special powers, and could ward off evil. To give someone else an egg was also a way of wishing that they had lots of healthy children.
Easter is traditionally a Christian festival, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is viewed as the most important Christian festival, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. Easter comes after Lent, with the bible saying that Christ died on the cross on Good Friday before coming back to life three days later.
For Christians, giving eggs around Easter time is a way of celebrating new life. The shell of the egg is thought to represent the tomb, while the chick represents Jesus. Typically, eating eggs was not allowed during Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter. This meant that a lot of eggs were saved, and decorated to make them Holy Week eggs. These were then given to children as gifts.
However, this practice of giving decorated gifts as eggs was around long before Christianity was introduced. During the Middle Ages colouring eggs proved popular, while different European cultures had their own styles and methods for decoration. For example, Austrian Easter eggs tend to have plant designs on them, while in Greece painting eggs a crimson colour is popular.
Moving on from giving decorated eggs, the Victorians adapted this tradition by gifting people with cardboard eggs covered in satin, which were filled with Easter gifts. The first chocolate eggs appeared during the 19th century, but were not very popular due to the limited capabilities of chocolate makers at the time. As these techniques improved, the taste and quality of the chocolate improved, with hollow eggs like we know now being introduced.
Cadbury was instrumental in cementing the success of the chocolate Easter egg. The earliest Cadbury eggs were made from dark chocolate filled with colourful confectionary, with the exteriors decorated with piping and marzipan flowers. As decorative techniques improved so did the chocolate eggs, with printing techniques and European chocolatiers developing ways of finishing the chocolate exteriors.
When Dairy Milk launched in 1905 the success of the Easter egg was well and truly solidified. The popularity of Dairy Milk chocolate was thought to hugely increase sales of Easter eggs, establishing them as seasonal must buys. The popularity of Dairy Milk continues to this day, with the majority of Easter eggs sold in the UK being made from milk chocolate.
Many Easter traditions, including Easter eggs, have a long and detailed history, which continues to this day. Whatever your beliefs are, Easter is a time for celebrating spring, fertility and new life, with your special friends and family members around you. Make the most of Easter customs and traditions and enjoy your Easter break.
We have a selection of hand picked easter hampers. Why not give something a little different this year?