Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Painted Easter Eggs.

Traditional painted easter eggs in Croatia.Traditional painted easter eggs in Croatia. Picture taken in April 2006. Slunj, Croatia.

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Easter egg From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Easter eggs are specially decorated eggs given to celebrate the Easter holiday or springtime. The oldest tradition is to use dyed and painted chicken eggs, but a modern custom is to substitute chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs filled with confectionery such as jellybeans. These eggs are often hidden, supposedly by the Easter Bunny, for children to find on Easter morning.

Claims are made that Easter eggs were originally pagan symbols, however as with most European pagan religion, the evidence for this is sketchy. One source of information on Eostre, a pagan goddess who may have given her name to the festival, does not mention eggs at all. It is, however, the more accepted historical line that Eostre was associated with eggs and Hares. There are also 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. In the 18th Century Jakob Grimm theorised a pagan connection to Easter eggs, with a putative goddess of his own who he named Ostara, a suggested German version of Eostre.

Overall, despite the speculation regarding a goddess, there is little doubt that the Western name for the festival, Easter derives from the germanic word Eostre which is also a name mentioned by Bede as a past Saxon goddess.

At the Passover Seder, a hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water symbolizes both new life and the Passover sacrifice offered at the Temple in Jerusalem. The ancient Persians painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration, which falls on the Spring equinox. This tradition has continued every year on Nowrooz since ancient times.

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