There’s more to the story of adorable bunnies and decorated eggs. Easter falls in spring, a time of rebirth and new life as flowers start to bloom and baby animals are born.
Eggs have long been a symbol of fertility and immortality. Appearing to be empty, life spreads out of it when a bird hatches. Historically, eggs were particularly prized at Easter because before industrial farming, hens laid few to no eggs over winter, so when spring arrived, the hens began to lay eggs again. Finally! In fact, eggs were so highly valued that they were used as a partial payment of salaries for pastors, parish clerks, and servants.
The practice of decorating eggshells is ancient. As an Easter tradition, decorative eggs date back as far as the 13th century, but decorated, engraved ostrich eggs have been found in Africa that are 60,000 years old. Since then, many cultures have adopted their own traditional ways of decorating eggs. Eggs are often painted red, representing the blood of Christ and the hard outer shell symbolizes the sealed Tomb of Christ. When they crack open, we remember his resurrection from the dead.
Decorating Easter eggs isn’t just for the young. In fact, many crafts are useful in the practice of mindfulness and often expand our understanding of culture and tradition at the same time. And, coming to more fully appreciate the why behind traditions enriches our faith.
And what about those adorable bunnies? The Easter story and bunnies became woven together during the 19th Century. Along with eggs, rabbits have been longstanding fertility symbols given that they are quite prolific and give birth as soon as the weather begins to warm. These symbols, like many others, make visible concepts of humanity’s connection and relationship to the sacred and holy. In the case of bunnies, they are iconic symbols of the Easter story of (re)birth and renewal.
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again. ‘John 3: 6-7
As Paul Harvey used to say, this is “the rest of the story” on eggs and bunnies, but each month Everything Holy packets try to dig a little deeper into scripture, customs, movies, and more. Click here to read about this ongoing project and please consider opting-in.