The warmth at night is a sure indication that Spring is coming and Summer won’t be far behind. The vernal Equinox is celebrated in many ways in different cultures but one common theme seems to be the humble egg.
This time of year the shops in the UK are full to bursting with all manner of treats made from chocolate or candy.
The mounds of chocolate eggs, bunnies and chicks in the supermarkets signal that Easter is on the way.
Easter is usually seen as a Christian festival marking the Resurrection of Christ, but Egyptians celebrate Sham el- Nasseem , the first Monday
after Coptic Easter, which is traditionally a day for taking in the spring breeze (nasseem) and picnicing by the Nile. The Egyptians have been central to deciding when Easter occurs as their celebrations were based on the movement of the sun, which they passed on through Roman and then Christian cultures to become the modern standard.
In Ancient Egypt, eggs for the Pharoahs were dyed and hung in temples as emblems of regenerative life. They not only symbolized new life, but they served as small art works to enjoy at the picnics. Dyed eggs from Pharaonic times are thought to be a direct predecessor of our Easter eggs today, but there are many other cultures which also hold the Egg as a symbol of fertility and life.
The Norse Goddess of Spring “Ostara” or “Eostre” is responsible for giving us the Easter Bunny as it is one of her symbols of fertility (rabbits and fertility? – I’m sure you can make the connection). She also gives us eggs and the 8th Century historian ‘The Venerable Bede’ attributes the name ‘Easter’ as coming from this Pagan Goddess. But enough of strangely named historians and back to eggs….
Eggs have become a major part of the Easter Tradition, representing new life and the resurrection. The tradition of painting eggs goes way back before Christianity; 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. 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.
Another Orthodox Christian tradition is the presenting of red colored eggs to friends while giving Easter greetings.
Easter eggs are a popular symbol of new life in Ukraine and other Slavic countries’ folk traditions. A batiklike decorating process known as pysanka produces intricate, brilliantly-colored eggs. The celebrated Fabergé workshops created exquisite jewelled Easter eggs for the Russian Imperial Court – not the sort of thing you’d want if you are off to roll Easter Eggs down hills which is a tradition in many parts of the UK – nor would you want to be hiding Fabergé eggs for an Egg Hunt (although I wouldn’t mind finding one!) So whether you are celebrating the Vernal Equinox, Passover, the Resurrection or the Nasseem break out the Eggs – dyed, painted, chocolate or salted; and although we’re a long way from the Nile, the thought of a picnic on the beach to celebrate the coming of Spring sounds perfect … anyone got a spare Crème Egg