Easter Egg Symbolism

Easter Egg Symbolism
Ukrainian Pysanky

Various Easter celebrations and fun activities revolve around eggs. Ancient people must have been amazed to see a new living creature emerge from a seemingly dead object. In ancient Persia, people gave eggs to each other at the spring equinox, and they set that date as the beginning of a new year. Easter egg symbolism arose much later as Christians used eggs to represent the rock tomb and the hatching chick as a symbol of Christ emerging from the tomb.

Lent was instituted to remember the fasting of Jesus, and people who were fasting would not eat meat from cows, sheep, pigs, or fowl. It was also common practice to avoid eating eggs, but chickens still laid eggs, so people decorated them. The original egg decorations were just plain vegetable dyes, but crimson eggs emerged in honor of the blood of Christ.

Eastern European people used intricate designs on eggs called pysanky, which they sold in Ukrainian shops. In Germany, people pierced and hollowed eggs and hung them on shrubs and trees like Christmas trees. In some countries, people used eggs in games. In addition to egg hunts, egg rolling activities were also conducted on the White House lawn. Some egg rollings were started at Sunday School picnics and parades before the Civil War.

The shell of a hen’s egg weighs only about one-fifth of an ounce, and it’s made from calcium carbonate just over one-hundredth of an inch thick. Despite the thin shell, chicken eggs can withstand 130 pounds of force. If it is set perfectly still with its pointed end up, an egg is almost impossible to break with one hand. Only an uneven force, like hitting it on something, can crack an eggshell.

Easter egg symbolism can remind us of Christ’s resurrection, but the egg’s design is one more example of the wisdom God has built into everything we see in the creation.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

References: The Easter Book by Francis Weiser, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, and Wikipedia