Easter may not be one of the bigger holidays, but it's one of my favorites. Egg hunts, baskets from the Easter bunny, and dyeing Easter eggs are all huge parts of my memories, and ones I'm excited to pass on to my daughter. But regardless of your faith or beliefs, you may have your little ones curious about what Easter is all about. You may need to be prepared to answer questions like, "Why do we dye eggs on Easter?" and "Why are all these chocolate bunnies hollow?"
While I can't give you any guidance on the chocolate talk, I can help you out on the history and tradition of dyeing eggs on Easter. Of course, if you simply want to explain to your kiddo that it's fun, that's explanation enough. But there are a few different theories as to how the tradition came to be a part of Easter and what it means to the holiday.
So why are eggs even considered an Easter symbol? For starters, because Easter falls in the spring and spring is the season of renewal, one theory is that eggs are a symbol of rebirth and new life.
In the Christian faith, the egg became symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to Christianity Today, eggs also hold a special place for the Christian faith on Easter because of Lent. The 40-day fast included abstaining from eating eggs, and because they could last for a long time without refrigeration back then, it was often one of the first things people ate in order to break the fast.
When it comes to dyeing them however, the origins are fuzzy. According to NPR, many different cultures decorate eggs in the spring to honor the new season, since that's when chickens begin to lay. In the Christian faith, the History website mentions that many decorated the eggs to celebrate the end of Lent and being able to eat them. But dyeing Easter eggs also became a Christian tradition because of legends surrounding the resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to Tech Times, one story says that when Simon of Cyrene picked up his basket of eggs after carrying Jesus's cross, his eggs had all miraculously changed colors. Christianity Today shares another story where Mary Magdalene told Emperor Tiberius that Christ was risen, and he pointed to an egg and said, "Christ has not risen, no more than that egg is red." And then, you guessed it, the egg turned red.
And the last Christian theory on dyeing eggs stems from a story about Jesus's mother, Mary. According to some, when she set a basket of eggs under the cross, the blood of Jesus fell on the eggs, turning all of them red. This definitely explains why some churches, such as Greek Orthodox, dye the eggs red to represent the blood of Jesus.
Aside from religion or celebrating spring, there is one other theory as to why we dye Easter eggs. There is a story that King Edward I had over 400 eggs colored and covered in gold-leaf to give to the royal household as gifts for Easter.
Regardless of why you and your family decide to dye Easter eggs, it's a super fun, totally messy tradition to start with your little ones. Here are three tips to help you get the most out of dyeing your Easter eggs.