Recently on my way home from kindergarten, my five-year-old, as usual, got a lot of questions. "Mama, how do you know when it is Easter?" "Why is it called Easter?" "Why does a rabbit bring the eggs?" "And why do we eat chocolate at Easter?" I could give her a simple meal. but satisfying answer to each of her questions, although I kept wondering about the latter. We all love to eat as much chocolate as Easter as possible, but where does that tradition come from?
Why Easter eggs?
Although there are religious links between Easter and eggs, there is general agreement that eggs represent Easter as a result of spring and fertility rather than a simple religious context. Eggs were historically a fertility symbol in many cultures. The ancient Romans, the Gauls, the Chinese, the Egyptians and the Persians used the egg as a symbol of rebirth and fertility in rites of spring rituals, including the use of dyed eggs. Traditionally in Christian history, the red-painted eggs represented the blood of Christ in Lent.
In general, spring has traditionally been associated with concepts of new life, rebirth and fertility. Well, spring itself evokes images of bouncing bunnies, daffodils, butterflies and flowering trees. A chick comes from an egg, a clear symbol of spring and new life.
Regarding bunnies, the Easter bunny and the Easter egg hunt, was originally a German tradition, which began in the beginning of the 17th century. The early German traditions were then introduced in the US by German settlers in Pennsylvania, who began to spread the Easter Bunny legend and implemented the tradition of creating children's egg hunts with painted and decorated eggs.
Why chocolate eggs?
There are few indications that chocolate was historically related to Easter, or its religious celebrations in early Christian times. Much less in the form of an egg. However, there are some signs about how the chocolate Easter Eggs we so enjoy today are born:
During the Christian celebration of Lent, ingredients such as eggs, sugar and butter were forbidden. Many historians believe that this has prompted people in many European countries to celebrate the end of Lent by making and eating chocolate and rich cakes made from these ingredients, which were also given as gifts.
It has been suggested that chocolate eggs were first produced in Europe in the 18th century. This may have happened as a contest for Hot Cross Buns, a popular Easter treat in European countries that were banned for consumption during the lending calendar. Chocolate shops throughout Europe wanted to compete with the popular pastry and went for the idea of a chocolate Easter egg as an alternative. This is certainly useful when you consider how Easter eggs, chocolates and sweets have become a marketing dream over time and are nowadays an obsession for May in Easter.
So there you have it! At least now, while you enjoy your chocolate this Easter, you can now boast a bit about its origins and history!