Why do we eat easter eggs? Reason we give chocolate eggs at Easter, and what day to give them to people

Chocolate easter eggs are a relatively recent invention but have come to dominate Easter celebrations

<p>Where do the chocolate Easter egg and Easter bunny traditions come from? (image: Adobe)</p>

Where do the chocolate Easter egg and Easter bunny traditions come from? (image: Adobe)

The Easter bank holiday is now upon us and it appears as if the long weekend could see good weather (and some bad traffic jams if you’re travelling).

While it’s meant to be a Christian religious festival, it has become more about the TV schedules and chocolate gifts in recent times.

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For those focused on the latter, you might well have already bought your Easter eggs - or Easter-themed dessert.

If you’re leaving it to the last minute, NationalWorld has written a handy guide about which ones are the best this year.

Children typically take part in an Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday (image: Getty Images/Gareth Copley)

But why do we eat chocolate eggs at this time of year - and when did this tradition come about?

Here’s what you need to know.

Why are eggs a symbol of Easter?

When gobbling up your Easter egg, it’s unlikely you’ll be thinking about anything other than chocolate.

But there is an interesting reason for why the egg is associated with Easter.

Eggs - the animal ones at least - contain new life and can therefore be representative of rebirth.

Our obsession with eggs and chicks at Easter is related to pagan views of spring (image: Adobe)

So, they were initially given and received as gifts to mark the arrival of spring - a tradition which merged into Easter over time.

With Christians not allowed to eat eggs and other fats during the fasting period of Lent, eating one on Easter Sunday was viewed as a special treat.

Over time, the practice began to develop superstitions.

Eggs that chickens and other birds laid on Good Friday were said to turn into diamonds if you kept hold of them for 100 years - although this might have been down to a prankster who wanted to create a stink (both literally and metaphorically).

And if your egg had a double yolk, it was believed you would soon become rich.

Easter eggs have become increasingly intricate over the years (image: AFP/Getty Images)

Some people even thought there were fertility and other health benefits if you cooked your eggs on Good Friday and then ate them on Easter Sunday.

However, this slightly disgusting idea has never been scientifically proven.

When did the chocolate Easter egg tradition originate?

As with most seasonal chocolate products, Easter eggs have only become popular relatively recently.

But they do predate chocolate Advent calendars by around 100 years.

Cadbury’s was beaten to the first Easter egg by Fry’s (image: Getty Images)

The first British chocolate egg was sold by Fry’s in 1873, with Cadbury’s launching its own version just two years later in 1875.

Easter eggs were initially made using dark chocolate, and were fairly plain in their early years.

However, in 1897 Cadbury’s launched its Dairy Milk Chocolate for the first time - a recipe that soon made it into Easter eggs and proved popular.

So popular, in fact, that milk chocolate has become the predominant flavour in modern Easter eggs.

UK supermarkets are heaving with Easter eggs as the bank holiday approaches (image: Adobe)

That’s if you opt for a ‘traditional’ Easter egg, of course.

You can now buy all kinds of Easter chocolates, like Cadbury Creme Eggs, Lindt bunnies and Percy Pig-shaped pink chocolate.

And even non-food-related products have got into the act, with Easter egg beauty kits now the norm.

Typically, families will give Easter eggs to each other on Easter Sunday - but this unofficial rule is generally only stuck to by those who have been fasting for Lent.

What other egg-related Easter traditions are there?

There are two other egg related traditions in the UK that have died out somewhat.

One is decorating boiled eggs by popping them in dye or painting them, before adding extra decorations like glitter or fake gems.

Another is egg rolling - a game involving rolling decorated hard boiled eggs down a hill and seeing whose egg travels the furthest.

It’s still a feature of USA Easter celebrations - most notably at the annual White House Easter celebration - but only tends to be found in Preston, Lancashire here in the UK.

Easter egg hunts are a more popular pursuit these days.

Where do the chocolate Easter egg and Easter bunny traditions come from? (image: Adobe)

What is the Easter bunny?

A key figure in any Easter egg hunt is the Easter bunny.

The rabbit is said to hop into homes before Easter Sunday to hide Easter eggs, which children then have to find.

There are numerous theories behind what the origins of the Easter bunny are.

One school of thought is that the rabbit comes from the ancient pagan festival of Eostre, which honoured the goddess of fertility and spring.

Her animal symbol is believed to have been a rabbit.

Meanwhile, in America, some people believe that the Easter bunny was introduced in the 1700s by German immigrants in Pennsylvania.

Their egg-laying hare, known as “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws”, was said to lay colorful eggs as gifts to children who were well behaved.

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