Last Sunday as I watched a couple of hundred children madly scrambling to find Easter Eggs, I started wondering what on earth hunting for eggs has to do with the celebration of Easter. So, I did a little bit of exploring and was really shocked with the information I gathered.
The notion that the earth was hatched from an egg was at one time widespread. So it isn’t any wonder that the egg as a symbol of rebirth and resurrection was adopted by the early Christians for the holy feast of Easter.
But why hide the eggs and have children hunt for them?
Giving eggs as wish for prosperity and abundance started as a pagan ritual especially in Germany. During the Burning Times (witch trials), the followers of the old pagan rituals were being persecuted. This led to the development of the Easter Egg Hunt. Instead of giving eggs as gifts to individuals, they cleverly made a game of hiding them in a public field or square for the children to find. In this way they deflected attention from themselves as followers of the “old religion”.
The followers of the “old religion” either went into hiding, were killed, or converted to Christianity. But the hunt became part of the Easter tradition and was brought to Pennsylvania by German immigrants in the 17 century.
Strange but true!