Easter egg traditions & the history of Easter eggs
Decorating Easter eggs is a common holiday tradition in the US — one that predates the founding of our nation by centuries. In fact, decorating eggs was a non-religious tradition in many cultures before Christianity (archaeological discoveries of decorated and engraved eggs date back as far as 60,000 years in Africa, for example).
The later association between eggs and Easter may have come from people being forbidden to eat eggs during Lent, and then being allowed to eat them on Easter — or it could be simply because many birds lay eggs only in the spring.
It is believed that the earliest Christians in Mesopotamia adopted the egg coloring from Persian tradition, dyeing them red as a symbol of the blood Christ shed at his crucifixion.
As this custom spread via the Orthodox Church throughout Europe, it was officially adopted as a ritual, with the eggs serving as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection, celebrated on Easter Sunday.
The Easter egg tradition lives on!
In more recent decades, however — and more common to our childhoods, even as a purely secular rite of spring — Easter eggs are dyed and decorated for the Easter Bunny to hide overnight (next best thing to Santa Claus, right?!) after he delivers our Easter baskets.
Then we wake up and hunt for the eggs, which we may later enjoy fresh out of the shell, as snacks over the next week, or as deviled eggs during our Easter feast.
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And while these days, a lot of Easter egg hunts take place with plastic eggs (which may be filled with Easter candy, trinkets — or even cash!), the holiday tradition of dyeing Easter eggs still lives on. These colorful creations may not end up as part of the official hunt, but the creative springtime celebration ritual lives on.
As you prepare for your Easter celebration, check out these vintage Easter egg decorating ideas! We also have some tips for making perfect hardboiled eggs — as well as some divine deviled egg recipes from the 60s and 70s. -BB
Decorating Easter eggs — whether those eggs are fresh from a hen, made of plastic, in the shape of a cookie, or in some other festive form — is a tradition that never gets old, so try some of these creative ideas from days gone by!