15 April 2017

Why do we scoff so many chocolate eggs at Easter?

571 stone | The world's heaviest ever Easter Egg... 
Surely Easter's all about celebrating Holy Week and the resurrection of Jesus, so what has the most important religious festival after Christmas got to do with bunnies, eggs and chocolate?
Well, you’re not going to find all the Easter traditions in the Bible, but our favourite symbols of Easter have been around for hundreds of years.

Let’s start with everyone’s favourite, Easter Bunnies. The Easter Bunny is said to have pagan origins while others believe it was the Germans that introduced the idea through their story of an egg-laying hare? Could this be true?  Maybe there's a clue in the Pagan spring festival sharing its name with the Anglo-Saxon Goddess Eostre. The link between rabbits and Easter also makes sense, because the rabbit symbolises fertility and is traditionally associated with new life and rebirth which fits quite nicely with today’s Easter celebrations which culminate with Jesus coming back to life on Easter Sunday. 

Eggs are everywhere at Easter, but they haven’t always been made of chocolate.  Artificial eggs were used to make gifts in the 1600s and like the Easter bunnies, eggs are also a symbol of rebirth.  For Christians too eggs were special because they were forbidden in Lent and were considered a real treat to eat at Easter. 

In America an Easter Egg Roll is held at the White House every year to celebrate Easter.  The US tradition started in 1878 when Rutherford B. Hayes was president.  Children decorated hard-boiled eggs then raced them on Easter Monday by rolling them across the White House lawn.

Interesting Fact | The largest ever Easter Egg Hunt took place in Florida in 2011 when nearly 10,000 children looked for half a million eggs

But how did the tradition of painting hard-boiled eggs end up with Easter eggs being made of chocolate? Chocolate eggs made from ground roasted Cacao Bean first appeared in Germany and France in the 19th century.  The rest of Europe soon followed, but with the originally solid eggs being hollowed out. These early chocolate Easter Eggs weren’t quite as tasty as the scrummy ones we have today and were made of a really basic, rough, dark chocolate.  After experimenting with French Eating Chocolate in the middle of the 19th century John Cadbury came to the rescue and by 1875 the first Cadbury Easter eggs were made. These early Cadbury eggs were made of plain chocolate and filled with sugared nuts, and decorated with chocolate piping and flowers made of marzipan.  With milk chocolate not being around until 1905 we had to wait until the twentieth century before Cadbury gave us our first milk chocolate egg.  By the 1960s though, milk chocolate Easter eggs were distributed worldwide.

Interesting Fact | There are 80 million Easter eggs sold in the UK each year
  
Today modern chocolate making processes have made the hollow moulded chocolate egg the most popular gift at Easter, so it's probably fair to say that chocolate eggs and bunnies have a serious place in the Christian festival of Easter, but while we gorge we'll all spare a thought for the resurrection of Jesus on Sunday...

Interesting Fact | The biggest Easter egg ever was 25 feet high and weighed over 571 stone

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