A symbol to Easter for many from the Western world, but when asked about the true meaning of the chocolate Easter Eggs, many of us and myself included are left speechless. Unsure of what the true meaning holds or the significance of the chocolate egg, this traditional Easter gift is less spiritual than it is greed. Feeling curious over discovering the true meaning, I have decided to get researching and dig out all the information that I could find on this chocolate treat.
The origins of the Easter Egg is somewhat closely linked to Pagan traditions and festivals that celebrated spring. Once said to represent the resurrection of Jesus, with the egg being the symbol of rebirth, fertility and the new beginning. Yet it was during the 13th century when the presenting of eggs as a gift become common practice. It is thought that people unable to eat eggs during the period of lent, turned to decorating hard boiled eggs, giving them as gifts to celebrate the Easter and the resurrection of Christ. These hard-boiled eggs would be decorated in bright colours with flowers neatly painted on top. Along with decorating this Easter related symbol, by giving an egg as a gift, they were also able to enjoy a treat that they had been unable to enjoy during lent. Back in Pagan times gone by, the egg was also a keeper of many special powers, helping to protect and ward off evil. Whether it was buried under the foundations of a building, stood on by a bride before she entered her new marital home or given to a lady, representing the fortune of many children later in life, the egg was a magical tool.
The biggest mark of change came in the 17th and 18th century when many manufactures chose to take the idea of the egg and turn it into a toy to symbolise Easter. A sign of capitalism developing and manufacturers wanting to make money out of a religious festival. It was during the Victorian era that many of these toys presented to children to celebrate Easter were stuffed full of delicious chocolate, at the time a novelty for children. The idea of an egg to symbolise Easter had been woven into the fabric for many centuries and gifts presented in the shape of an egg had been common for a while. The mighty chocolate egg that we know today was created much later in the 19th century.
Popping up quickly across the European continent, chocolate connoisseurs from France and Germany were some of the first to grasp the theatrical concept of turning the humble Easter Egg into a hollow chocolate treat. It is fair to say that at the beginning, many of the chocolate eggs that were produced turned out completely solid as the technology to create the moulds that are now used today was not quite ready for this renovating evolution. With Cadbury’s being one of the most famous and well-known brand of chocolate eggs that graces the many shelves in our supermarkets, the creators of Cadburys made their first eating chocolate back in 1842. Yet it wasn’t until 1875 that the first Cadbury Easter Egg was created. By 1893, the quantity of chocolate eggs that were readily available was dramatically increasing and Cadburys alone had 19 different lines of Easter eggs available to the public.
The development of the sheer scale of Easter Eggs that are created every year for this Christian festival is enormous. But what is truly shocking is that the original meaning, the symbol behind the chocolate, has become so forgotten that for many, Easter is the holiday all about food. No longer is the egg given as a gift to ward off evil while reminding people of the horrors that Jesus went through to save his people and the resurrection that followed. By taking the time to remind ourselves but also our children on the true meaning behind the Easter Egg, can we grip on to the true meaning, hoping that it is never forgotten.