Recently I found myself explaining Easter egg hunts to a friend who was unfamiliar with this tradition. As I explained it I realized that it sounded rather odd, “Children search for plastic eggs filled with candy because….” I had nothing to follow the because. So, I went searching.
I found out that decorating eggs as part of a spring ritual dates back to ancient Greece and Rome and that decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century. One explanation is that eggs were one of the forbidden foods during Lent, so people boiled them. Then they painted them and ate them on Easter. Another explanation says that the egg is a symbol of Jesus’ resurrection and when they are cracked open they stand for the empty tomb.
I have vivid memories of hunting hard-boiled eggs in my Nana’s backyard. Our family tradition was to celebrate Easter by heading to Baltimore to be with my cousins. My dad and Uncle Clifford would hide the eggs in the backyard, and the four cousins would run frantically around the yard, Easter baskets in hand, searching for colorful hard-boiled eggs. Sometimes it was particularly hard to find an egg so the dads would coach us, “You’re getting warmer,” “You’re hot,” or “You’re on fire.” Afterwards, we sat around the huge dining room table and had “egg fights” also known as “egg picking” or “egg tapping.”
This year, my girls were home for Easter. On Friday, we dyed Easter eggs and headed to the Good Friday worship service. On Sunday, we celebrated the resurrection at Floris UMC, then drove to visit my family in Annapolis where we shared a meal and had the requisite egg fights. This Easter, when we cracked open our eggs, I remembered what I had learned about the Easter egg, the symbol of the empty tomb and the power of the resurrection of Christ, and I took a moment to thank God for the gift of Jesus.
What did you do this Easter to celebrate and remember Christ?