Egg Hunts are a popular tradition on Easter morning, hiding eggs outside for children to run around and find. Emily with Emily Reviews remembers her family Egg Hunts for Easter.
“My family is pretty big, my grandparents had six children and as a child all of my aunts and uncles and their children would go to my grandparents’ house for Easter. I was the youngest of all of the cousins, and there are roughly 15 of us all together. My aunts and uncles would all stuff plastic easter eggs and bring dyed eggs to hide across my grandparents yard for us to find. They would all go overboard by filling tons of eggs so each of the kids would get a grocery bag full of eggs. After all of the eggs were found, we would come inside and sprawl them out on the floor. Then someone would call out questions like “Who has a polka-dotted egg?” and whoever had that type of egg would get to come up and pick a prize. The prizes would be cheap little toys like coloring books, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk or bubbles but it was exciting for us kids.”
But, there wouldn’t be an Egg Hunt without the Easter Bunny. To understand the origins of egg hunting, we need to understand why rabbits are associated with Easter.
The Legendary Easter Bunny and the Egg Hunt
Known for their prolific procreating, rabbits have long been a symbol of fertility. In fact, rabbits were the sacred animal of the Saxon goddess of spring and fertility. The Easter Bunny legend started long ago in Germany with an egg-laying hare named “Osterhase.” German children made nests and left them outside for the hare to lay her eggs in. The idea of an egg-laying rabbit might have started with the Romans, who believed that all life came from eggs. Another link between the rabbit and the egg comes from Pagan traditions, in which the rabbit was associated with the moon and the egg with the sun. On the spring equinox, when day and night are the same length, the rabbit and egg come together.
Easter Egg Hunting began in America when German immigrants brought their Osterhase tradition to Pennsylvania in the 1700s. The festivity soon spread across the nation, and baskets replaced nests. Eventually, the game evolved into a treasure hunt, and the prizes expanded from just hard-boiled eggs to include chocolate, candy, toys and coins. In many families, the Easter Bunny leaves a basket filled with gifts, not just eggs to find.
Decorating eggs for Easter probably began in the 13th century, when eggs (in addition to meat) were forbidden during the Christian Lent season, which ends on Easter. To mark the end of the time of penance and fasting, people painted and decorated eggs before eating them. For centuries, parents emptied raw eggs and dyed the eggshells or dyed hard-boiled eggs for their children to find. Some also hand-painted the eggs with elaborate designs. Today, the colored egg has evolved into a plastic egg that you can hide a small treat inside.
Photography: Amanda Jaynes-Ray