Like many other people I know that the 'Easter' egg almost certainly has its origins in the Spring festival, the word Easter it is thought being derived from the pagan fertility goddess, Eostre/Oestre.
Quite when and where the decorated Easter egg came into being is less clear though it is known that many ancient civilisations such as the Chinese, Egyptians and Romans decorated them at Spring time.
As for the chocolate Easter egg, a fairly modern invention, it is believed this tradition began in the 19th century and became more popular as the actual process of chocolate making became more sophisticated.
But what about that other Easter favourite ....... the Easter Bunny?
Surprise, surprise, this also has its origins in pre-christian times when both the hare and the rabbit were revered as the most fertile of animals and as such were symbols on new life during Spring.
However, the modern-day Easter Bunny seems to have its origins in Germany where it was first written about in the 1500s though it wasn't until the late 1800s that the first edible Easter bunny, made of pastry and sugar, were made.
Introduced to American folklore by German settlers who arrived in Pennsylvania during the 1700s, the arrival of the Oschter Haws brought almost as much joy as a visit from the Christ-Kindel on Christmas eve, the children believing that if they were good the Oschter Haws would lay a nest of coloured eggs.
click HERE for a very silly yet great fun virtual Easter egg hunt.
The thought of a bunny delivering eggs not strange enough, how about these other customs?
- In medieval times Easter-egg throwing was a popular pastime - the priest would throw a hard-boiled egg to the choirboys, they would throw it around, and the one left holding it as the clock struck 12 would get to keep it.
- The men of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, give their women a spanking on Easter Monday to keep them healthy for the year.
- The "Trionfo della Morte" (Triumph of Death) is a bizarre Easter spectacle which attracts numerous tourists to Prizzi (Sicily). Two red devils in steel masks and 'Death' dressed in yellow and wearing a leather mask frighten the population, kidnap prisoners and lock them in bars. Then it gets a bit more pleasant: the prisoners can pay for their release and enjoy cannatedi, traditional Easter pastries.
- In Finland, children dress up and go begging in the streets with sooty faces, carrying broomsticks. In some parts of Western Finland they even burn bonfires on Easter Sunday. This tradition takes place to ward off witches flying around between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
the tradition is to create an Easter fire out of used Christmas trees from the winter. The fire is seen as a symbol of the victory for the beautiful and sunny spring over the cold days of winter Germany
Don't celebrate Easter? Today the USA also celebrates ..........