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).
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!