Easter Eggs

Dear Church Family,

There have been many urban legends about where the tradition of Easter Eggs came from. I have heard many say that it came from pagan religions. Following is an excerpt from the Christianity Today Magazine.

"As the feast of Easter developed in Christian tradition, so did the festival's preparatory period, known as Lent. This involved fasting and later abstinence from certain foods, including eggs. The festal letter of Athanasius in 330 shows that the early church was practicing a 40-day fast prior to Easter (also indicated in Canon V of the first Nicene Council). The fifth-century church historian Socrates Scholasticus noted, "Some abstain from eggs …" Canon LVI of the Council in Trullo, 692, enjoined such abstinence: "It seems good therefore that the whole Church of God which is in all the world should follow one rule and keep the fast perfectly, and as they abstain from everything which is killed, so also should they from eggs and cheese, which are the fruit and produce of those animals from which we abstain.

By the time of the medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-74), eggs, milk, and meat were all forbidden during Lent: "Eggs and milk foods are forbidden to those who fast, for as much as they originate from animals that provide us with flesh … Again the Lenten fast is the most solemn of all, both because it is kept in imitation of Christ, and because it disposes us to celebrate devoutly the mysteries of our redemption. For this reason the eating of flesh meat is forbidden in every fast, while the Lenten fast lays a general prohibition even on eggs and milk foods."

In pre-refrigeration days, it would be difficult to preserve milk and meat products until Easter, but the same was not true of eggs. Eggs, which unlike other foods do not perish quickly, were therefore a natural way to break the fast on Easter Sunday. Presenting gifts of eggs at Easter has a long and culturally diverse lineage. Practicality was one factor: Given that hens would be laying eggs throughout Lent, a surplus would exist by Easter, probably at lower prices. (Notably, the Jewish Passover Seder meal includes a hard-boiled egg symbolizing the sacrifice at, and subsequently the destruction of, the Jerusalem temple. Whether this had any influence on the development of Easter eggs in their initial form cannot be determined.)"

Having read this, I would suggest parents might use an Easter Egg Hunt to teach why the early church fasted prior to Easter Sunday. That their fast represented sadness because of what Jesus had to endure and because he was dead and buried. However, on the third day he rose and we end our fast because he is no longer parted from us by the grave but is alive and with us forevermore. And we are no longer sad so we feast together with our brothers and sisters in Christ. The egg is the way the first Christians ended their fast because it was a food that could be carried to church in their pockets.

I think it is very fitting, in view of all that has just been said, that we are having a fellowship meal right after the Easter Service. Please consider coming tonight for the Good Friday service at 6:00. Many may want to begin a fast at that time. If so, we will break that fast together on Easter Sunday.

However you choose to mark this momentous occasion in history, please just remember the worshipper God is looking for is the one who worships Him in Spirit and in truth.

Your Servant


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