Wednesday, March 27, 2013

They Actually Eat That: Easter Eggs.

Have you ever stopped and wondered how Easter eggs came about? Coloring eggs, finding eggs, the whole egg deal? We can kind of understand the link between rabbits, baby animals, and spring, but one of these things is not like the others. After all, rabbits don't lay eggs...riiiight?

Well, for starters, both eggs and rabbits are fertility symbols. Rabbits fuck...well, like rabbits, and have litters with many, many babies. Eggs, likewise, are the product of something able to reproduce. They're a symbol of new life like most baby animals are. It makes sense to link the two in that way, at least. Doesn't mean the Cadbury clucking bunny isn't a fine joke.

Layin' chocolate eggs is just another day at the office, apparently.

Really, though? Tying rabbits and birds together goes way back. One story of the fertility goddess Eostre - note the similarity to the word "Easter," there - details a wounded bird becoming a fertile hare; thus the egg-laying bunny was born. Some cultures even use counters that are normally reserved for avian game for rabbits. The idea is in the collective subconscious and will not be leaving any time soon.

 Easter also happens to be one of those holidays colored by whatever culture you happen to be in.  It started as a pagan celebration for the goddess Eostre, hence the name. We can debate about whether hallucinogenic mushrooms were involved or not, but hunting for 'shrooms in the grass makes more sense than hunting multicolored eggs. Ancient Christians were marketing geniuses, synching up the resurrection of Jesus with holidays that were already around. A million variations on "color eggs and pretend it's about Jesus" popped up from there. Regardless of how Easter started or how you celebrate it, it marks the end of barren winter, and if eggs are involved, why not make a few egg dishes in celebration?

Disclaimer: Male Easter Bunnies should still give alternate careers a try.

So what about coloring eggs? In some Christian traditions, particularly orthodox, the eggs are colored red to symbolize the blood dripping from the wounds of Christ. Since then, the color range has expanded from red to a veritable rainbow that looks very much like an assortment of flowers. Some Christian teachings attach the rainbow colors to Mary Magdalene as well, but there is a good chance some form of egg coloring went on before Jesus was born. Nobody knows who has the "real" story, here. Which came first - the bunny or the egg?

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