One More Reason for Easter Eggs [Akin]

jimmyakin.com/wp-content/uploads/easter-eggs-300x221.jpgI grew up and went to college in Arkansas, where the chicken industry is big.

I remember sitting in a college biology class where the professor was explaining how selective breeding (this was in the days before gene editing) had improved the industrial usefulness of chickens.

The example I remember him citing was how, through selective breeding, the food-to-meat ratio of commercial breeds of chickens had been altered, so you now got more meat per pound of chicken feed that you fed the chicken.

(I made mental notes for a future science fiction story involving selective breeding of humans, though I haven’t gotten around to writing that one.)

And an improved food-to-meat ratio was only one characteristic of chickens that selective breeding had made possible.

There’s another that is directly related to why we have Easter eggs.

I’ve pointed out for a long time that chickens don’t stop laying just because it’s Lent, and so if–as in the olden days–people were abstaining not just from meat but from eggs as well*then by the end of Lent you’re going to have a lot of eggs you need to use up.

The logical thing to do is celebrate the Resurrection (and the ability to eat eggs again) by having an egg party, perhaps by coloring the little things to make them more festive. Hence: Easter eggs.

All that’s true, but today I was reading an article on how refrigeration was controversial when it was first introduced (believe it or not), and the article mentioned a fact about pre-selectively-bred chickens that I hadn’t known:

To illustratethe importance of refrigeration for eggs, Friedberg notes that they used to be a seasonal food. Before modern breeds were developed, hens laid most of their eggs in the spring. That meant that fresh eggs were unavailable or very expensive for most of the year(SOURCE: Livia Gershon, “When Refrigeration Was Controversial,” JSTOR Daily, August 14, 2016).

Got that?

Not only would the hens not stop laying for Lent, Lent was the only time they**would* lay (“Lent” being the Old English word for spring).

Therefore, if you were a Christian and abstaining from eggs for Lent, you’d miss the lion’s share of your only chance of the year to have them unless you used up all those eggs that were laid during Lent.

One more reason for Easter eggs!

feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/jimmyakin/HPRf?d=yIl2AUoC8zA
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/jimmyakin/HPRf/~4/KFBeU5L6GUs

More…

I was told we are worshiping the goddess, Ester by the use of Easter eggs. It is a pagan symbol.

Nonsense.

  1. There is absolutely no evidence that Easter eggs have anything to do with pagan practices.

  2. If they did have anything to do with them, they would come from pagan practices in the Middle East or in Greece, because the earliest recorded Easter eggs that we know about are the red eggs of the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe. In general, the use of other colors besides red was a medieval thing, whereas red eggs were an Early Christian thing.

  3. There is no evidence of any pagan goddess Eostre ever existing in England, Germany, the Nordic lands, or anywhere else, although the sainted Venerable Bede did theorize from putative linguistic evidence that such a goddess might have existed.

  4. The association of hares with Easter eggs seems to have showed up extremely late, and did not come about until the early modern period. We have fairly good documentation of this, thanks to a couple of German Protestant scholars who wrote humorous academic papers back and forth about the philosophical significance of eggs, and included some discourses on the recent German custom or game of blaming Easter eggs on magical hares, or claiming that hares were thieves who absconded with Easter eggs…

I forgot one…

  1. Actually, red/purple/brown eggs are a traditional Jewish Sabbath and Passover food. You put the eggs to a slow boil in water containing salt, pepper, and onionskins (and sometimes other spices) before the Sabbath begins, and you eat them the next day. The Sephardic version is called “huevos haminados” or seven-hour eggs. You can also pickle them and eat them for months and months. The older version was done by burying eggs in the embers of the fire before the Sabbath started, right next to the Sabbath stew, or sometimes in the Sabbath stew. Nobody knows how old the onionskin thing is, as there are also ways to roast eggs in your oven with the water and onionskins, and presumably that would also work as a Dutch oven thing.

Of course, this may be something derived from Christian red-egg customs, but it could easily have worked the other way around. (Especially since it’s amazing how many “pagan survivals in Christianity” actually turn out to be Jewish customs that were already old when Jesus became incarnate.)

Thanks, Mintaka. :thumbsup:

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