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Colored Eggs? The History and Symbolism of Easter Foods

Holidays are far more than a mere date on a calendar. They’re the summation of all of their traditions, symbols, meanings, memories, foods and more. One holiday particularly ripe with symbolism is Easter.

As the days count down to the most important of Christian holidays this March 27th, let’s take a closer look at this ancient holiday, along with highlighting some of its most important Easter foods and what they mean.

Easter food

A fresh take on egg decorating.

Everything Easter

While the Easter Bunny might get more than his fair share of attention on Easter Sunday, the fact is that the holiday is about much more than that to its celebrants. Before we get to that, however, let’s address one fascinating fact: Easter’s origins are not even Christian. Rather, the name Easter — and its festivities — derive from the pagan fertility goddess, Eostre, and the celebration of spring.

In the Christian faith, however, Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his crucifixion. Because it commemorates the very event upon which the entire religion is based, Easter — observed on the first Sunday following the spring season’s first full moon each year — has unparalleled significance for Christians all over the world.

Easter Foods and Their Meanings

In preparation for the holiday, Christians fast for a period of 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday. Because of this, the Easter meal is a very important, and eagerly-awaited part of the day. While other traditions, like egg hunting and visiting the Easter Bunny, may not technically have anything to do with the Christian faith, they’re still a very real part of the modern-day celebration for many Americans.

All of this may leave you wondering: How did eggs and bunnies and ham get mixed up with the Easter holiday, anyway?

Perhaps there’s no image more inextricably linked with Easter than colored eggs. This tradition — completely absent from the Bible and any true religious affiliation — derives from the holiday’s secular roots. According to the American Egg Board,

Eggs were colored, blessed, exchanged and eaten as part of the rites of spring long before Christian times … They thought of the sun’s return from darkness as an annual miracle and regarded the egg as a natural wonder and a proof of the renewal of life.”

At some point, eggs did become part of the Christian celebration with people coloring eggs — then a forbidden food — to mark the end of Lent and the breaking of the fast.

Easter food

Did someone say “sweets table?”

Similarly, while egg hunting is not in itself a religious activity, many Christians view the beloved activity as symbolic of the rolling away of the stone used to block the tomb of Jesus.

Of course, few kids tucking into their Easter baskets come Sunday morning would be satisfied to find only colored eggs awaiting them. Jelly beans, chocolate, marshmallow treats, cookies and other sweet treats account for the fact that Easter is the country’s second best-selling holiday for candy.

While there’s no official holiday meal, ham is a favorite on many Easter tables, but the cause for this may surprise you. Traditionally, people have celebrated Easter with ham for one reason: It’s in season, having had the entire winter to cure and develop its deep, rich flavor.

Easter food

Salty, savory, scrumptious ham is the perfect post-Lent meal.

For those who had given up meat in the days leading up to Easter, there’s nothing better than indulging in a thick slice of hickory-smoked, honey ham.

And then there’s the eating of Easter bread — thought to be a literal recreation of Jesus’ “breaking bread” with his disciples during the Last Supper.

Easter food

Deliciously festive Easter bread.

Ultimately, while the religious celebration of Easter and the foods we currently eat to celebrate may not be directly related, the holiday has always been closely associated with food. Gourmet food delivery can help you fill your baskets and set your table with all of the foods you know and love while sharing in the true meaning of the holiday with friends and family. Shop foods, gifts and more at FoodyDirect today.