Going Back In Time To Decode Eggs-Actly The Easter Tradition

Tracing the Easter egg’s history from its pagan roots to its present-day delicious avatar.

Published On Mar 04, 2021 | Updated On Mar 06, 2024


Any child who has ever celebrated Easter Sunday in honour of the Resurrection of Christ, will tell you all about the Easter egg hunt, which is an inseparable part of the celebration. After all, the egg has been the symbol of new life, fertility, growth and new hope since time immemorial—and the practice of painting hard-boiled eggs during springtime well precedes the Christian era by several accounts. In fact, the earliest Easter eggs included both hen and duck eggs that were painted in bright vegetable dye and charcoal.


In the Christian era, the egg’s hard shell came to represent the sealed tomb of Christ while the cracking of the shell represents Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Besides, the eggs are a fitting end to the 40-day period of Lent that is all about fasting, penance and abstinence for the faithful. 

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century began the manufacture of egg-shaped toys which were given to children at Easter. The Victorian era saw the introduction of satin-covered eggs—that were nothing short of veritable works of art and contained gifts and candy. A notable milestone was when chocolatier John Cadbury made his first French Eating Chocolate in 1842 but it was not until 1875 that the first Cadbury Easter eggs were made. Pouring chocolates into the mould was a big deal—until the Dutch invention of a press for separating cocoa butter from the bean. This allowed the production of mass-scale cocoa butter and was the secret of making moulded chocolate.

The earliest chocolate eggs were essentially dark chocolate filled with sugared almonds. And then came the advent of milk chocolate in 1905, setting the pace for milk chocolate to rule the roost. As things stand today, the Easter egg is a piece of confectionary that is both exciting and exacting.

Chocolate aficionados demand better stuff at all times, and they transcend barriers of race and age. From shell eggs that are essentially hollow eggs filled with different varieties of chocolates, plastic eggs with jelly beans to creme-filled eggs and those made of marzipan, the sky is the limit as to the variety available.


Aparna Nelthrope, mom to 10-year-old Karyn says: "The nicest thing about Easter is when kids are asked to find either the painted ones or actual hard-boiled ones. Similarly painting the Easter egg is a fun activity involving plenty of laughter and bonhomie." 

What rules the roost in the Indian scenario apart from the simple chocolate egg is the marzipan Easter egg, an Anglo-Indian specialty that uses egg white, almonds and sugar and rose water. Marzipan is basically a confection consisting of sugar or honey and ground almonds.

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