Easter Traditions: The Symbolism of the Egg

posted by Karen Hood
Friday, March 18, 2011

Author: Silar
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Decorating and hunting for Easter eggs is a huge part of celebrating the Spring holiday. In many cultures around the world, the egg has been a symbol of immortality, fertility, and rebirth since ancient times. The ancient Persians, for example, painted eggs during their celebration of the Spring Equinox, and there is evidence that the symbolism of the egg was important as far back as the Neolithic era 7000 years ago. The correlation is not hard to see: many newborn animals are hatched from eggs, and Spring is the time of year for most animals to give birth.

Many of the Easter games and activities involving eggs that we participate in today date back to customs in Medieval Europe. Decorating eggs was popular at this time, and the tradition was eventually carried to America with the first German settlers. Hunting for eggs and egg rolling games also come from medieval times. Furthermore, the name of the holiday itself comes from the pagan deity Ostara, known as Eostre to the Anglo-Saxons, goddess of the dawn and rebirth of the year. As Ostara, she appeared as a beautiful maiden carrying a basket of eggs and accompanied by a rabbit; as Eostre, her symbol was a rabbit that laid eggs itself.

Stay tuned for the third part of this series, in which we discuss the importance of chocolate in the Easter tradition. In the meantime, please enjoy this sample recipe from Karen Hood’s fabulous cookbook Easter Delights. It is a unique way to enjoy the rich symbolism of the egg during your Easter celebration this year. With more than 250 delicious recipes, Easter Delights will make planning for this holiday easy and fun!

Poached Eggs in Roman Red Sauce

The red sauce in this recipe for poached eggs makes this a delightfully zesty dish. If you like a creamier sauce, you may add ½ cup of cream to the sauce as it is simmering, before you add the eggs for poaching.

Ingredients:
2 Tbs. olive oil
½ c. chopped onion
½ c. sliced mushrooms, fresh or canned
1 clove garlic, diced
1 can peeled tomatoes
½ c. cream (optional)
4 eggs
salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. In skillet sauté onion, mushrooms, and garlic in olive oil.
  2. Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper; heat to simmering, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. For creamier sauce, stir in cream and heat through.
  4. Crack eggs into sauce and let eggs poach.
  5. Serve eggs in dish with red sauce and French bread.

© Karen Jean Matsko Hood 2011

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