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From Symbolic Eggs to Delicious Treats

How Chocolate & Bunnies Became an Easter Tradition

As I was driving to take my dog Bonnie for a walk this Good Friday morning, I spied a large hare bouncing off on the side of the road, it wasn’t carrying a basket full of chocolate eggs or not that I could see!, this led me to contemplate why and how the Easter bunny and chocolate have become such a tradition at Easter time. As someone that specialises in the creation of chocolate easter eggs and chocolate bunnies, I thought this is something I should really know about! So after a little bit of googling this is what I found:

This tradition has a surprisingly long and interesting history. While the egg itself holds deep meaning in Easter celebrations. The story starts with real eggs. Eggs have long been seen as symbols of new life and rebirth, making them a natural fit for spring festivals, or if you’re like me, living in the southern hemisphere, I have always been a bit confused by commercial portrayal of a spring Easter!.

Anyway, early Christians adopted this tradition, associating eggs with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. During Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter, it was forbidden to eat meat and all animal products including eggs and milk. Eggs therefore became an especially prized part of the Easter feast due to their seasonal abundance. Hens would continue laying during Lent, this meant families found themselves with a stockpile of eggs come Easter Sunday. Eggs were taken to church to be blessed, further elevating their significance. At the time, those who couldn’t afford pricier proteins, eggs became a vital part of the Easter meal. The act of decorating the Eggs on Easter Sunday may have stemmed from this very special status – a way to beautify a food that held so much meaning during this important time. A tradition that continues in many places today, in fact, this was a great tradition in my family growing up, I clearly remember as a child, painting hard boiled eggs in crazy designs in the lead up to Easter then on Easter Sunday, rolling them down the hill to with my family.

So how did chocolate eggs come about?

Chocolate was slowly making its way to Europe. By the 17th century, it was becoming a popular treat, but early chocolate was expensive and difficult to work with. As chocolate-making techniques improved, the idea of molded chocolate treats emerged. In the 19th century, Europe saw the rise of chocolate Easter eggs, initially as a luxurious gift.

From what I can tell there are a few reasons why chocolate eggs took off:

  • After fasting for Lent, chocolate eggs offered a special way to celebrate the end of the fasting period.
  • The novelty of a chocolate treat shaped like an egg made it an exciting gift for kids.
  • Technology made mass production possible – As chocolate molding became more efficient, chocolate eggs became more affordable and accessible.

And now today, we see a plethora of chocolate eggs in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. To be honest, I was gobsmacked yesterday with the amount of mass produced Easter eggs still available in the supermarkets the day before Easter, I know sometimes I am in conflict with the very thing we do here! :-). While the religious traditions of Easter remain important to many, for others, the chocolate egg has become a secular symbol and a delicious way to celebrate the season.

So how does the Easter bunny fit into it?

The Easter Bunny, a beloved symbol of the holiday, is more than just a cuddly rabbit with a basket full of chocolate. His origins hop back centuries, rooted in German folklore and brimming with fascinating twists.

Originally known as the “Osterhase” among German Lutherans this Easter Hare originally played the role of a judge, keeping an eye on children’s behavior leading up to Easter.

Carrying colored eggs in his basket, the Easter Hare transformed into a gift-bringer, much like Santa Claus at Christmas. This tradition of the Easter Hare bringing treats for children was first documented in 1682 by Georg Franck von Franckenau.

So, next time you bite into a delicious chocolate bunny or admire a beautifully decorated egg, remember the rich history behind these Easter traditions. From ancient symbols of new life to playful gift-giving customs, Easter offers a delightful blend of the meaningful and the fun, reminding us of renewal and the joy of celebrating with loved ones. Happy Easter!