THE SYMBOLS OF EASTER

THE SYMBOLS OF EASTER

THE EASTER EGG:

Many ancient cultures believed that the world began with a single egg. Eggs were given as springtime gifts in ancient China, Greece, and Rome. Based in this tradition, the egg came to symbolize the resurrection of Christ. Lavish decoration of Easter eggs began in England, during the Middle Ages. Members of royal families gave one another gold-covered eggs as Easter gifts but, most people could not afford this and instead decorated them with dyes and other materials.

The most famous example of decorated Easter eggs were the Faberge Eggs. From 1870 until 1918, Peter Faberge designed eggs of gold, silver and precious gems for European and Russian royalty. Those eggs are now valued as priceless works of art found only in museums and private collections.


THE PALM BRANCH:

It was the Roman custom to welcome royalty with waving palm branches. When Jesus entered Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday, people cut branches from palm trees, blanketed the streets with them, and waved them in the air. Today, Christians carry palm branches in parades, create palm crosses, and weave palm leaves to decorate their churches.


THE LAMB:

Long before the time of Jesus, families gave lambs as offerings to God. And since the first Passover, the symbolism of serving lamb as an important part in the Passover feast. Since Jesus died during Passover, his death was interpreted giving himself as an offering to God for the sins of all the world. It’s for this reason the Bible calls Jesus the Lamb of God. Early Christians saw the lamb as a symbol of Jesus and continue to use it as a part of their Easter celebrations. Salt, when dissolved in water, may disappear, but it does not cease to exist. We can be sure of its presence by tasting the water. Likewise, the indwelling Christ, though unseen, will be made evident to others from the love which he imparts to us. … Sadhu Sundar Singh


How Easter Got Its Eggs

Only within the last century were chocolate and candy eggs exchanged as Easter gifts. But the springtime exchanging of real eggs – white, colored, and gold leafed – is an ancient custom, predating Easter by many centuries. From earliest times, the egg signified birth and resurrection. The Egyptians buried eggs in their tombs. The Greeks placed eggs atop graves. The Romans coined a proverb: Omne vivum ex ovo, “All life comes from an egg.” And legend has it that Simon of Cyrene, who helped carry Christ’s cross to Calvary, was by trade an egg merchant. (Upon returning from the crucifixion to his farm, he found that all his hens’ eggs had miraculously turned a rainbow of colors; (however, evidence for this legend is weak.) Thus, when the Church stated to celebrate the Resurrection in the second century, it did not have to search far for a popular and easily recognizable symbol. In those days, wealthy people would cover a gift egg with gilt or gold leaf, while peasants often dyed their eggs. The tinting was achieved by boiling the eggs with certain colors, leaves, logwood chips, or the cochineal insect. Spinach leaves or anemone petals were considered best for green; the bristly gorse blossom for yellow; logwood for rich purple; and the body fluid of the cochineal produces scarlet. In Germany during the early 1880s, Easter eggs were substituted for birth certificates. An egg was dyed, then a design with the receipt’s name and birthdate 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. Easter’s most valuable eggs were hand crafted in the 1880s. Made by the great goldsmith Peter Carl Faberge, they were commissioned by Czar Alexander III of Russia as gifts for his wife, Czarina Maria Feodorovna. The first Faberge egg, presented in 1886, measured two and half inches long and had a deceptively simple exterior. Inside the white enamel shell, though, was a golden yoke, 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. The faberge eggs today are collectively valued at over $4 million. Forty three of the fifty three eggs known to be made are now in museums and private collection