What is the origin
of the Easter Egg?

Egg & Hen

First Imperial Faberge Egg - 1885

From earliest times, and in most cultures, the egg signified rebirth and resurrection.
The Egyptians buried eggs in their tombs. The Greeks placed eggs atop graves.
Given as gifts by the ancient Greeks, Persians, and Chinese at their spring festivals,
the egg also appears in pagan mythology, where we read of the Sun-Bird being hatched
from the "World Egg". The ancient Saxons celebrated the return of spring with a festival
commemorating their goddess of offspring and of springtime

"Eastre" — through her earthly symbol, the rabbit.

Eggs were wrapped with gilt or gold leaf, while peasants often dyed their eggs. The
tinting was achieved by boiling the eggs with certain flowers, leaves, log wood chips, or
the cochineal insect. Spinach leaves or anemone petals were considered best for green; the
bristly gorse blossom for yellow; and log wood for rich purple and the cochineal for scarlet.

In parts of Germany during the early 1880s, Easter eggs substituted for birth certificates.
An egg was dyed a solid color, then a design, which included the recipient’s name
and birth date, was etched into the shell with a needle or sharp tool. Such Easter
eggs were honored in law courts as evidence of identity and age.

Decorating and coloring eggs for Easter was the custom in England during the middle
ages. The household accounts of Edward I, for the year 1290, recorded an expenditure of
eighteen pence for four hundred and fifty eggs to be gold-leafed and colored for Easter gifts.

Easter’s most valuable eggs were hand crafted in the 1880s. Made by the great
goldsmith Peter Carl Fabergé , they were commissioned by Czar Alexander III of
Russia as gifts for his wife, Czarina Maria Feodorovna. The first Fabergé egg, presented
in 1886, measured two and a half inches long and had a deceptively simple exterior.
Inside the white enamel shell, though, was a golden yolk, which when opened
revealed a gold hen with ruby eyes. The hen itself could be opened, by lifting
the beak, to expose a tiny diamond replica of the imperial crown.
See: Fabergé Eggs
and: History of the Fabergé Family

From ... "The Great Idea Finder"

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