April 13, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Easter Eggs: An ancient symbol that Christianity took on its pagan meaning

Easter Eggs: An ancient symbol that Christianity took on its pagan meaning
Decorated Easter eggs

When we think of Easter, the first thought that comes to mind is beyond the religious meaning of this holiday for Christians Chocolate eggs are offered on this occasion. Easter eggs are a delicacy Wrapped in colorful and bright paper and often gifts and surprises are placed inside or used outside, to make young and old smile.

The symbol of the egg is one of the oldest known and has united countless cultures and religions since the dawn of time. As usually happens, Christianity simply took this symbol, stripped it of all pagan variations, and re-proposed it in a Christian key.

For Christians, The egg becomes a symbol of the risen Christ Death leaves the grave by rolling away the stone, which precisely resembles an egg in its shape. Also, the egg, apparently inert and lifeless, holds a new life inside. These double symbols of the stone of Jesus' tomb and the hidden life ready to be opened make the egg a symbol of the resurrection, the life and salvation represented by Christ, the hope for every human being. Therefore, it is no coincidence that many artists adopted the egg as the protagonist of their works.

We start with the meaning of the egg in Christianity, but it will certainly be interesting to find out what this specific and unique meaning means in ancient times, and how it has evolved over time and through cultural traditions, until it reaches us. .

The symbol of the egg has a very ancient origin. Many civilizations have traced the origin of the world there. Cosmic Egg, or Egg of the World, was regarded by the ancients as a vital and dynamic nucleus floating in nothingness in the primordial chaos. Ultimately, it will create the universe as we know it.

P'an Ku (or Pangu) and the Cosmic Egg

This description is repeated in many civilizations, from the Babylonians, Sumerians and Assyrians, to the Egyptians, Greeks and Hindus, and then takes on specific and different characteristics in different cultures.

For the Egyptians, Two parts of the egg shell were born from the beak of the great Knef duck, When they separated, they would have given rise to the heavens and the earth. Always in Egyptian religion, the symbolism of the egg as a symbol of life goes back to the myth of the phoenix, which cyclically dies and then is reborn from its ashes, creating an egg that is fed by the sun and wind. Also, the Egyptians placed the egg at the center of the four elements: earth, air, fire and water.

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In Greek mythology the egg refers to the creation of castor and pollock., children conceived by Lyda and Zeus, the latter in the form of a swan, and born from an egg. For the Greeks, Eros, the god of love, was born from a silver egg laid at night and fertilized by the north wind. An old myth dating back to the earlier Hellenic population of Greece tells a similar version, in which Fertilized by the serpent Ophelus, the goddess Eurynome laid a universal egg in the whirlwind of chaos.

According to the Celts, an egg called a klein is at the origin of the universe. In northern Europe, people rolled eggs from the top of Mount Beltane to follow the movement of the sun across the sky.

For the Hindus, the two halves of the shell of the cosmic egg, one gold and the other silver, formed heaven and earth. AndBrahma is the same egg. A manifestation or creation of the material universe, encased in the golden heart of the world's egg and in this form slumbered in darkness for a long time, before bursting into a fiery golden light, it gave rise to life. , in A kind of big bang.

Statue of Brahma in Chiang Mai Temple, Thailand

The World Egg also appears in Chinese Taoist religion, where Pangu who created the world was born from the cosmic egg, in which Chaos gathered, contained the primordial principles of yin and yang. These two principles, stabilized until they reached perfect balance, created Pangu, who then cleaved the Cosmic Egg with his ax, creating Earth (Yin) and Sky (Yang), and to separate them, the Tortoise, a Gilin (a type of Chimera), the Phoenix, and A dragon.

The egg is the origin of the world, and a symbol of eternal life, which is cyclically renewed, reborn with time and seasons. The Greeks, Chinese, Egyptians and Persians exchanged eggs. Sometimes decorated and colorful, as gifts for spring festivals such as the spring equinox, to joyfully greet the beginning of the new season.

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In all cults of the Mother Goddess, the egg is a symbol associated with the female because the ability to create the egg and life with it is characteristic of women. The egg is found in Orbism, Mithraism, and the Dionysian Mysteries, always as a symbol of life and creation, and in alchemy, The philosopher's egg is comparable to the world's egg.

We have already seen how the practice of egg-laying was widespread in ancient times, especially with the advent of spring. A symbol of the “rebirth” of nature.

In the tympanums of Romanesque and Gothic churches, The figure of Christ is usually ovoid in shapeLike a pantocrator at its center.

Like the Egyptians, Christians decorated chicken eggs with crosses or other symbols and painted them red to commemorate the blood of Christ. This tradition would have been greatly strengthened by the prohibition of eating eggs during Lent. That means At this point there were a lot of uneaten chicken eggs. In order not to waste them, Christians began to boil them and decorate them. Over time, the tradition of taking these eggs to church for blessing was born. In the Middle Ages, especially in Germany, it was customary to offer plain or decorated Easter eggs.

A Faberge egg from the Kremlin collection in Moscow, Russia (Photo by Lasky Diffusion/Wojtek Lasky/Getty Images)

Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, children continued to be given colorful and decorated chicken and duck eggs or egg-shaped toys, while chocolate eggs did not appear until the early 19th century. It was produced by the English company Cadbury in 1875. Whole chocolate eggs are made in France and Germany. The first was built in the time of King Louis on how to extract cocoa butter by dissolving it in water. Later, other inventions led to the extraction of pure powdered chocolate, which was easily shaped and used in molds. In 1819, François Louis Kaylor established the first Swiss factory where chocolate was turned into a manageable paste using a special machine. Other sources suggest that prototypes for making plain chocolate eggs with small surprises already existed in Turin in the 18th century.

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This trend was at the end of the 19th century Production of gold, silver and platinum eggs covered with precious stones. In fact, this custom was already widespread in the Middle Ages and was not resumed until the end of the 19th century. The first person to order was A An egg like the famous jeweler Carl Fabergé It was a gift from Tsar Alexander III Romanov, his wife Marija. Faberge created a platinum enamel egg, which contained a second egg, designed as a golden yolk, inside which was a golden chick with ruby ​​eyes, on whose head was a reproduction of the imperial crown. The Fabergé collection of Russian Imperial eggs today consists of 52 eggs. Most contain small eggs of equal value, such as matryoshkas. The egg, produced by Fabergé to commemorate the Trans-Siberian Railway, was decorated with a metal band inscribed with a railway ornament, and contained a small gold train inside.

Easter Roska: Unlike the Three Kings, this one has an egg

Returning to chocolate eggs, large-scale production on an industrial scale is now being added to eggs produced by artisanal baking. The production and distribution of eggs begins more than a month before Easter, and the market has eggs of all types and sizes.

Elsewhere, esp In Orthodox countries, chicken eggs are still preferred Cooked, natural dyes have more color. Eggs should be cooked long enough, until they are very firm.

We have countries with a large Hispanic culture “Easter Yarn”. The circle represents eternity and the crown of Christ and the whole egg in its most classic version is associated with the idea of ​​rebirth and fertility as we read above. Many say that this dish was born in Bologna and brought to Spain, although the traditional Easter dessert in Italy is “colomba di pascua”, a sweet cake in the shape of a dove, usually covered with layers of almonds.