A bit of history about Easter eggs

Like many traditions now associated with Christianity, egg decorations have their origins in pagan practices. With roots up to 5 thousand years ago (this is how the Easter eggs found in Assyria date). Ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Romans and Persians knew them. It is probably the latter that we owe to the introduction of Easter eggs into Christian culture. The oldest Polish native Easter eggs date back to the 10th century and was found near Opole.

The oldest were adorned with “magic” symbols. They were not decorations. They were supposed to deter evil powers, guard homes, happiness and health of their inhabitants. They provided fertility and success in love. Protected against spells. They were buried at the entrances to  houses and other buildings. They were given to animals to be healthy and fertile. In water in which there were egg shells, a newborn was washed, which was to ensure its health.

Crushed shells were scattered on the thatched roofs to protect houses from lightning. Easter eggs were closely associated with the spring solistce and pagan tradition of the feast of the dead (the custom of laying them on graves is found today). Eggs have always symbolized life force, chaos, the universe, rebirth. It is a symbol of immortality and permanence. Myths were associated with them regarding the birth of the world. Although we cannot imagine Easter without eggs, the Catholic Church initially wanted to eliminate “spring” Easter eggs at all costs.

Easter overlapped with pagan rites related to the victory of spring over winter (life over death). Thus, it was confronted with pagan rites of the spring solistice, of which symbolically painted eggs were a part. Of course this was not desirable. And it was forbidden to eat eggs during Easter.

In the 12th century the ban was lifted. And the custom survived. It was adapted to the needs of the Christian religion. That is eggs from which supposedly the evil spirit had been banished. The egg, from an unwanted relic of pagan tradition, has transformed itself into a symbol of the resurrection of Christ, salvation, and immortality.

Decorating eggs is an intricate occupation that requires considerable artistic skills, precision and finess. In the old tradition it was reserved only for women. The men had to stay away, both from them and from the room in which they were painted. Today, children have the biggest enjoyment from the  painting of eggs. So don’t deprive them of this. On the contrary, let’s use this enthusiasm to spend time together, have fun and reminisce about tradition.


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