Sunday, April 10, 2011

Eggs, Chocolate, and the Easter Bunny

 Eggs on an easter bouquet
At one time Lenten fasting for Catholics was stricter than it is today. They'd fast from meat, milk, butter, and eggs. This is why Fat Tuesday was celebrated so fully. They wanted to clean out the pantry of all animal products. So, naturally, when Easter (Pascha) came they had a lot of eggs and butter for their celebrations.

Now, sure, people used eggs for celebrations before Christianity. They also used cakes, music, and dancing. That doesn't mean Christians shouldn't use these things.  I read here that "...the Greeks who celebrated Pascha with eggs did so using specifically red eggs not merely decorated ones."According to New Advent "The (egg's) symbolic meaning of a new creation of mankind by Jesus risen from the dead was probably an invention of later times." So, while the symbolic nature of eggs works, it's not the reason for them at Eastertime. It's just that people had a lot of them around after not eating them for so long and they were hungry for them after not eating them during Lent.

If you'd like to keep with tradition and dye your Easter eggs red this year Pantry Spa has instructions for natural egg dying instructions.
Hot Chocolate by Raimundo Madrazo

Easter celebration foods have to do with the things they couldn't eat during fasting time. So, the traditions really make sense. Chocolate, of course, came along later. They didn't have chocolate in Europe until the Spanish came to the Americas. But it's become something many people voluntarily give up at Lent. It normally also contains milk, so it makes sense (under the old non-dairy Lenten law) to abstain from it during Lent. Golly, I'm getting a craving.

1907 postcard

The Hare was a pagan symbol for the ancient German people. The Easter Bunny or "Osterhas," was brought to America with German immigrants, who were Protestant. Now this is a little funny because from my experience it's typically the Protestants who complain that Catholics have too many "pagan" traditions. Jacob Grimm wrote about the pre-Christian origins of the myth and connections to the goddess Saint Bede wrote about and as we read last week, even Bede didn't have much evidence to go on.

Now, I've given up coffee for Lent and I'm very much hoping the Osterhas will leave me a nice trail of coffee beans. Gee, I do hope they will be coffee beans...

If you liked this post, you'll love last week's. It's about the history of Easter (Pascha).

*Links to image sources embeded in image captions.


  1. Amanda, how nice to see you on my blog this evening. Oh my, you are a brave soul to give up coffee! I did give up desserts and that has been difficult, as I knew it would be, and I've added a few things too, of course. Lent is among my favorite seasons!

    I agree with what you said in my comments box about not really understanding JOY until you're experienced it. So true!

    Peace be with you as you move into the final days of Lent.

  2. I always enjoy your blog, Roxane. :)

    Each time I start missing coffee, I just think- I gave up coffee, but Jesus gave up His life! It does direct my attention back to Him this Lent season. Last year I tried giving up coffee and failed- too grumpy and didn't want to put my kids through it. This year it's completely different. The sacrifice (though tiny) has been a blessing to my prayer life.

    Bless you for giving up desserts. Alas, I didn't do that and our family has so many April Birthdays.

    Yes, adding things too- prayers or service, etc. That's always good. Sets up spiritually healthy patterns too.

    God bless you! :)

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