The Childish Joy of Easter Eggs

One of my most fond memories is of me as a little child, sitting around the dining room table with my siblings and decorating eggs for Easter. In Egypt, we celebrate both Easter and Sham El Naseem, which falls on the day after Easter. Sham El Neseem is an ancient Egyptian festival that marked the coming of the spring and all the beauty of the blooming world.

Children from around the world will immediately identify with the image I just painted above and will attribute this holiday to fun, games, and joyful playfulness that is shared by kids and adults alike. However, the Easter egg has endured as the most transnational cultural landmark of the season, and I was intrigued to find out exactly more about its origins.

The Name Easter derives from the Old English word Eastre or Eostre, which refers to the Anglo-Saxon goddess of dawn and spring. Eggs symbolized spring, fertility, and birth in ancient times, and so painting eggs was a method of celebrating the coming of spring.

When Christianity eventually took hold in those communities, Easter was appropriated to denote the death and rebirth of Jesus Christ. The hard shells of Easter eggs were seen to represent the tomb of Jesus, and the egg was a symbol of His triumphant victory over death. As such, the eggs were sometimes painted red, to symbolize the blood of Jesus.

Christianity and Easter eggs

Easter from around the world

While Easter had taken a deeply religious significance, that did not preclude its adoption as a fun holiday for children to enjoy. Across the world, Easter arts and crafts and Easter activities for kids promise to bring joy and cheerfulness to millions of people. Here are some ways different cultures celebrate this amazing holiday:

When it comes to fun activities, the USA has one of the most interesting activities around. In the United States, Easter egg rolling is a popular event that takes place in the White House. During the race, children push decorated, hard-boiled eggs across the White House lawn, in an annual event held the Monday after Easter. The first official White House egg roll occurred in 1878 when Rutherford B. Hayes was president.

white hous easter egg roll
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Sasha and Malia, along with ÒKid PresidentÓ Robby Novak, join children on the South Lawn for the 2013 White House Easter Egg Roll, April 1, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

While many countries have egg hunts, one of the most interesting traditions comes from Latin America, where dried chicken eggs stuffed with confetti and sealed with a piece of tissue paper are hidden in various locations for children to find.

When it comes to computer software, Easter eggs were often placed in a program or a game to denote a unique and hidden message for the audience. It all started in the 1979 video game Adventure when Warren Robinett disagreed with the company’s policy of not including programmers’ names in the game credits, a move designed to discourage other companies from stealing talented programmers. Warren thus added his name in a secret message in the game, thus starting a movement where computer programmers would imitate the move to contain hidden secrets for gamers.

In Germany, eggs contents were removed by piercing the end of each egg with a needle and blowing the contents into a bowl. The hollow eggs were decorated and hung from shrubs and trees during the Easter Week. Each country has produced its unique method of decorating eggs, below are a few of such examples of the use of traditional designs and colors:

ukranian easter eggs

Ukraine via Luba Petrusha
Slovenian Easter egg
Slovania via Voices from Russia
Croatian Easter Egg
Croatia via Croatia Tourism
Bulgarian Easter Eggs

Bulgaria via BNR

Polish Easter Eggs
Poland via Dabble

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