Easter Celebrations With Eggs, Bunnies, and Games

Updated on March 19, 2018
Glenis Rix profile image

Glenis lives in England. She is now retired from her career in urban regeneration and enjoys spending time researching English traditions

Easter Week

Easter is a jolly time eagerly anticipated by children in many parts of the world. They look forward to hot cross buns on Good Friday. Easter bunny rabbits and bizarre games that involve rolling eggs, hunting for them, or racing with them are all part of the holiday fun. And on Easter Sunday there are gifts of chocolate Easter eggs. This article looks at the origins of the Easter bunny, egg-based games and tasty treats.

For many practising Christians, Easter is the most important time in the liturgical calendar. On Good Friday the murder of Jesus Christ is commemorated and on Easter Sunday, also known as Resurrection Sunday, his resurrection from death is celebrated. The cracking open of an Easter egg is said to symbolise the opening on the tomb in which the body of Christ was interred. An Easter egg is, therefore, a Christian symbol of rebirth.

The egg is also an historical symbol of fertility that stretches back into the distant past. The coming of the springtime, associated with new life, was celebrated by pagans long before the spread of Christianity.

Fun Creative Activities With the Kids During the Easter Holidays

  • Make an Easter bonnet - craft stores, departmental stores and some supermarkets stock everything that is needed
  • Decorate an Easter tree. These are becoming increasingly popular and make a lovely decoration. Find some small decorative branches - willow is ideal, or buy a synthetic tree. The decorations can range from those homemade by the children to the beautiful glass eggs available in many stores
  • Make Easter cards to give to friends and family
  • Make marbled eggs

Click thumbnail to view full-size
An Easter Tree. A simple Easter Bonnet. Let your imagination run wild and then enter your creation in an Easter Bonnet parade.
An Easter Tree.
An Easter Tree. | Source
A simple Easter Bonnet. Let your imagination run wild and then enter your creation in an Easter Bonnet parade.
A simple Easter Bonnet. Let your imagination run wild and then enter your creation in an Easter Bonnet parade. | Source

Easter Customs and Games That Involve Eggs

Nowadays even people who do not share Christian beliefs share in the fun and traditional games associated with Easter.

Egg Rolling

Egg Rolling is a centuries-old Easter tradition. Traditional egg rolling involves using marbled eggs, which are wrapped in onion skins and boiled to create marbled patterns (but nowadays some organisers deem it permissible to use eggs manufactured from hardier materials). Traditionally, on Easter Sunday, the eggs were eaten for breakfast and surplus eggs, boiled for the purpose of rolling, were rolled down the local hill as a competition. Egg rolling still takes place throughout the UK and in other countries too - famously, on the White House lawn in Washington, DC.

Egg and Spoon Race

Participants in the race balance an egg on a spoon and race to the finishing line. If a runner drops the egg s/he is disqualified.

Easter Egg Hunt

A fun game in which decorated eggs or chocolate eggs are hidden, supposedly by the Easter Bunny, for children to hunt for and find.

Egg Dancing

Egg Dancing is an ancient custom, nowadays rarely seen, but still practised in parts of the UK over Easter. Brought to England by the Saxons in the 5th century, and first recorded in 1498, it involves townspeople, sometimes blindfolded, dancing around eggs laid on the ground, attempting to avoid stepping on them.

Egg Tapping

Egg Tapping, known as shackling, jarping or dumping, is popular all over the world today. Historically, dyed egg was used.The game involves two people tapping their hard-boiled eggs together, each with the intention of cracking the other’s egg, whilst keeping their own intact.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Barack Obama egg rolling on the White House lawnA clutch of eggs found during an Easter Egg huntEgg tappingCornelis Saftleven [Public domain]
Barack Obama egg rolling on the White House lawn
Barack Obama egg rolling on the White House lawn | Source
A clutch of eggs found during an Easter Egg hunt
A clutch of eggs found during an Easter Egg hunt | Source
Egg tapping
Egg tapping | Source
Cornelis Saftleven [Public domain]
Cornelis Saftleven [Public domain]

Chocolate Easter Eggs

The first chocolate Easter eggs were made in Europe in the early 19th Century with France and Germany taking the lead. Nowadays a wider and wider variety of boxed Easter eggs are on the shelves of supermarkets and super-expensive ones are available from specialist chocolatiers. But it's fun to attempt to make your own and involve the family in decorating them. I have found that Silicone mounds produce a better and more consistent result than plastic. To achieve a good result it's wise to use the best quality 80% cocoa solids chocolate that you can afford.

The Origins of Easter Celebrations—It's All About Oestre

  • The word Easter is derived from Ŏastre, said to be the name of a Germanic pagan goddess, which translated into Old English is Ĕastre, and Ostara in Old High German.
  • The Venerable Bede, in his 8th-century work, The Reckoning of Time, stated that pagan Anglo Saxons had held feasts in honour of the goddess Ĕastre at a time that roughly equated with April.
  • Bede wrote that by his time the pagan feast had died out and had been replaced by the Christian Pascal Month, which celebrated the resurrection of Christ.
  • Some academics have speculated that Ŏastre was invented by Bede but there is no evidence to either prove or disprove what he wrote.
  • In Neo-paganism Ēostre is associated with the coming of spring and the dawn, and her festival is celebrated at the spring equinox.
  • Eggs have been associated with birth and fertility as far back as the ancient Egyptians. Perhaps because the spring season (and Ŏastre according to pagan beliefs) brings renewal, rebirth from the death of winter the egg has become one of the symbols, along with the hare, associated with her.
  • Many Christian festivals were timed to coincide with earlier pagan celebrations, presumably in the interests of good public relations, and some of the customs and practices associated with pre-Christian days were carried over into Christian celebrations. Hence we have the Easter Egg and the Easter Bunny.

Pysanky Decorated Eggs From Ukrania
Pysanky Decorated Eggs From Ukrania | Source

Fabergé Easter Eggs Made for the Russian Imperial Family

The Russian Imperial Family were devoted members of the Russian Orthodox Church.

  • 50 Imperial Easter eggs, nowadays beyond price were created between 1885 and 1916 for Tsar Alexander III and his successor, Tsar Nicholas II, under the leadership of Peter Carl Fabergé.
  • Each of the eggs was unique and they were the ultimate achievement of the renowned Russian jewellery house.
  • Ten eggs were produced from 1885 to 1893, during the reign of Emperor Alexander III; 40 more were created during the rule of his son, Nicholas II, two each year, one for his mother, the dowager, the second for his wife.
  • After the murder of the Romanov Royal family during the Russian Revolution the eggs became dispersed. They are now located in galleries and in the hands of private individuals around the world.
  • One of the Fabergé eggs is now in the Royal Collection of HM Queen Elizabeth II, having been acquired by Queen Mary in 1933.
  • Three of the eggs have not been located.


A Selection of Images of Fabergé Easter Eggs Made For the Russian Royal House of Romanov

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Coronation Egg in the Fabergé Museum, St. Petersburg, RussiaEaster Egg containing a framed photograph of Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich of Russia Now in the Virginia Museum of Fine ArtsThe Pelican Egg, made for Nicholas II of Russia, who presented it to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna on Easter 1898. Now in the Virginia Museum of Fine ArtsBasket of Flowers Easter Egg, commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II in 1901 as a gift for his wife. Now in the private collection of the British Royal Family.Memory of Azov Easter Egg Part of the series commissioned by the Romanov Russian Imperial Family
The Coronation Egg in the Fabergé Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
The Coronation Egg in the Fabergé Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
Easter Egg containing a framed photograph of Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich of Russia Now in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Easter Egg containing a framed photograph of Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich of Russia Now in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The Pelican Egg, made for Nicholas II of Russia, who presented it to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna on Easter 1898. Now in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The Pelican Egg, made for Nicholas II of Russia, who presented it to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna on Easter 1898. Now in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Basket of Flowers Easter Egg, commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II in 1901 as a gift for his wife. Now in the private collection of the British Royal Family.
Basket of Flowers Easter Egg, commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II in 1901 as a gift for his wife. Now in the private collection of the British Royal Family.
Memory of Azov Easter Egg Part of the series commissioned by the Romanov Russian Imperial Family
Memory of Azov Easter Egg Part of the series commissioned by the Romanov Russian Imperial Family | Source
Ostara (1884) by Johannes Gehrts. The goddess flies through the heavens surrounded by Roman-inspired putti, beams of light, and animals. Germanic people look up at the goddess from the realm below.
Ostara (1884) by Johannes Gehrts. The goddess flies through the heavens surrounded by Roman-inspired putti, beams of light, and animals. Germanic people look up at the goddess from the realm below.

The March Hare

Hares breed in March, which is early springtime in northern Europe, which explains their association with Oestre.Hares are renowned for their mad antics and erratic behaviour during the breeding season, hence the derogatory phrase 'Mad as a March Hare'. This aspect of a hare's behaviour is, as you probably know, foregrounded in Lewis Carroll's representation of the March Hare in his famed classic children's novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Also, pursuing the theme in this article of eggs and the early associations with springtime births, in the story of Alice's adventures Humpty Dumpty grows from an egg purchased by her. Little surprise, then, that the story is now closely linked to the Easter period and that a raft of Alice in Wonderland themed novelties flood the market at this time of year.

Whether there was a goddess named Eostre, or not, and whatever connection the hare may have had with the ritual of Saxon or British worship, there are good grounds for believing that the sacredness of this animal reaches back into an age still more remote, where it is probably a very important part of the great Spring Festival of the prehistoric inhabitants of this island.

— Charles J. Billson, writing about the hare in folk custom and mythology
Easter Bunny Postcard 1907
Easter Bunny Postcard 1907

The first account of a rabbit depositing eggs was written in the 16th century. It was recorded that children left their shoes out for the Easter Bunny to leave eggs and gifts.

— Countryfile Magazine

The World's Most Expensive Easter Egg

Eggs Aren't Just For Easter—'Go To Work On An Egg'

Go to work on an egg was a memorable marketing slogan used by the UK Egg Marketing Board in the 1950s. It is advice that still rings true—eggs are high in protein, cheap to buy and quick to prepare. A breakfast of eggs—boiled, scrambled, poached, or in an omelette—makes a nourishing start to the day and will stave off pangs of hunger until lunchtime.

Egg Marketing Board Advertisement From the 1960s
Egg Marketing Board Advertisement From the 1960s

References

http://www.countryfile.com/explore-countryside/history/easter-traditions-still-alive-today accessed 28th February 2018

https://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/how-to-make-a-chocolate-egg/ accessed 26th February 2018

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%92ostre accessed 27th February 2018

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelican_(Faberg%C3%A9_egg) accessed 28th February 2018

https://www.faberge.com/the-world-of-faberge/the-imperial-eggs accessed 27th February 2018

https://www.nutrition.org.uk accessed 6th March 2018

https://www.royalcollection.org.uk accessed 28th February 2018

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 GlenR

    Comments

    Submit a Comment

    • Glenis Rix profile imageAUTHOR

      GlenR 

      8 months ago from UK

      Have a great Easter, Jo. In England it is customary to eat roast spring lamb for dinner on Easter Sunday and fish on Good Friday. I wonder what the customs are in Tennessee?

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      8 months ago from Tennessee

      Thanks, Glenis. I am planning an Easter dinner with festivities at my home this Easter and appreciate all of the useful information here. I especially like the information about making your own chocolate Easter eggs with the silicone mold.

    • Glenis Rix profile imageAUTHOR

      GlenR 

      8 months ago from UK

      Mary Norton and Dorothy Weithers, thanks for visiting and for your positive comments. I hope that you have an opportunity to enjoy some of the egg-based games over the Easter holiday. As for me - I am hoping to receive a chocolate egg :)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      8 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is the best I have read about Easter and I like the games you included here. We can do some of these.

    • CaribTales profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      8 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for the history and the pictures. Thanks especially for the games. They all make for a happy Easter!

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