Origin and Folklore:

Decorated/Dyed Easter Eggs

The egg is widely used as a symbol of the start of new life, just as new life emerges from an egg when the chick hatches out.  The ancient Zoroastrians painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration, which falls on the Spring equinox. The Nawrooz tradition has existed for at least 2,500 years. The sculptures on the walls of Persepolis show people carrying eggs for Nowrooz to the king.  At the Jewish Passover Seder, a hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water symbolizes the festival sacrifice offered at the Temple in Jerusalem.  There are good grounds for the association between hares (later termed Easter bunnies) and eggs, through folklore confusion between hares’ forms (where they raise their young) and plovers‘ nests. Christain Symbols and Practice:

Symbolic Easter Eggs

The egg is seen by followers of christianity as symbolic of the grave and life renewed or resurrected by breaking out of it. The red symbolizes the blood of Christ redeeming the world and human redemption through the blood shed in the sacrifice of the crucifixion. The egg itself is a symbol of resurrection: while being dormant it contains a new life sealed within it.  For Orthodox Christians, the Easter egg is much more than a celebration of the ending of the fast, it is a declaration of the Resurrection of Jesus. Traditionally, Orthodox Easter eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ, shed on the Cross, and the hard shell of the egg symbolized the sealed Tomb of Christ—the cracking of which symbolized his resurrection from the dead.  In the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, Easter eggs are blessed by the priest at the end of the Paschal Vigil, and distributed to the faithful. Each household also brings an Easter basket to church, filled not only with Easter eggs but also with other Paschal foods such as paskha, kulich or Easter breads, and these are blessed by the priest as well.  During Paschaltide, in some traditions the Paschal greeting with the Easter egg is even extended to the deceased. On either the second Monday or Tuesday of Pascha, after a memorial service people bring blessed eggs to the cemetery and bring the joyous paschal greeting, “Christ has risen”, to their beloved departed (see Radonitza). Easter Egg Traditions:

Easter Egg Hunt

From all corners of the world, it is generally tradition to decorate the shells of the eggs with various dyes.  Once decorated, children traditionally play a variety of games, specific to the nation in which these children live.  Egg hunt is a game during which decorated eggs, real hard-boiled ones or artificial ones filled with, or made of chocolate candies, of various sizes, are hidden for children to find, both indoors and outdoors.  When the hunt is over, prizes may be given for the largest number of eggs collected, or for the largest or the smallest egg.  Real eggs may further be used in egg tapping contests.  In the North of England, at Eastertime, a traditional game is played where hard boiled pace eggs are distributed and each player hits the other player’s egg with their own. This is known as “egg tapping“, “egg dumping” or “egg jarping”. The winner is the holder of the last intact egg. The losers get to eat their eggs. The annual egg jarping world championship is held every year over Easter in Peterlee Cricket Club. It is also practiced in Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia, Lebanon, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, and other countries. They call it tucanje. In parts of Austria, Bavaria and German-speaking Switzerland it is called Ostereiertitschen or Eierpecken. In South Louisiana this practice is called Pocking Eggs and is slightly different. The Cajuns hold that the winner eats the eggs of the losers in each round.  The central European Slavic nations (Czechs and Slovaks etc.) have a tradition of gathering eggs by gaining them from the females in return of whipping them with a pony-tail shaped whip made out of fresh willow branches and splashing them with water, which is supposed to give them health and beauty.  Egg rolling is also a traditional Easter egg game played with eggs at Easter. In England, Germany, and other countries children traditionally rolled eggs down hillsides at Easter.  This tradition was taken to the New World by European settlers.  Different nations have different versions of the game.Egg dance is a traditional Easter game in which eggs are laid on the ground or floor and the goal is to dance among them without damaging any eggs[ which originated in Germany. In the UK the dance is called the hop-egg.  The Pace Egg plays are traditional village plays, with a rebirth theme. The drama takes the form of a combat between the hero and villain, in which the hero is killed and brought to life, The plays take place in England during Easter.  In some Mediterranean countries, especially in Lebanon, chicken eggs are boiled and decorated by dye and/or painting and used as decoration around the house. Then, on Easter Day, young kids would duel with them saying ‘Christ is resurrected, Indeed He is’, breaking and eating them. Information courtesy of Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_eggs.