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A Fear of Whales

It’s the kind of question that gets asked again every year? So why do we color eggs to celebrate the resurrection of the LORD? I used to pester my mom with this sort of question all the time when I was growing up!

But Now that I’m grown I’ve learned to do the research for myself and I’m happy to provide the answer.

You see back in the early days of the church nearly everyone but the clergy was illiterate, so everything was symbolic. It’s still very much that way in the eastern orthodox churches (the symbolism part not the illiteracy part)

We had this extended system of cascading symbols that took place throughout the year called “liturgy” which most churches have now reduced down to it’s most basic elements. But back in the day Liturgy was everything.

The liturgy to prepare for the season of Easter began on ash Wednesday for a season called “lent” where traditionally, Christians would fast from”passionate foods” meaning anything from animals, for 40 days. Nowadays many Christians still fast through Lent, but we more often pick one thing to abstain from than eat an entirely vegan diet.

At the end of 40 days would be Pascha (or Easter) where the fast would be broken and an enormous party held for the risen Lord. This celebration began in the Easter service itself, when after symbolically announcing the risen savior the priest would hand you a Red Egg.

Red, to symbolize the crucifixion, Egg to symbolize new life. You were then invited to crack the shell, to symbolize victory over the gates of hell, and then eat the egg, to end the fast and symbolize that party time had begun!

You see it’s all symbolic

Over time as families helped prepare for the service and children were enlisted to help dye the red eggs it became an Easter tradition. Some people started doing it in their homes in addition to at church, just for fun! Then they started decorating their red eggs with patterns pertaining to the resurrection; things like Crosses, and Fishes. And as more colors of dyes became available in homes, so did more colors of eggs.

Then Chocolate Makers got in on the action and started selling chocolate eggs as an Easter treat, the huge success of which lead to other chocolate symbols of new life, like doves, chicks, and bunnies.

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