One egg’s lower half transformed
And it’s upper half transmuted
And became the sky above.
From the yolk the sun was made.
Light of the day to shine above us;
From the white the moon was formed.
Light of the night to gleam above us:
All the coloured brighter bits
Rose to be the stars of heaven
And the darkest crumbs changed into
Clouds and cloudlets in the sky.
Kalevda, Song of Creation, Elia s Lönnrot, 1835
Eastertide and the egg.
Most Big Feet have an understanding that with the welcoming of Spring comes new life. Bulbs in the grass appearing, the snow and frost thawing. The appearance of bees and butterflies, crows filling and padding their nests with sticks and branches. Trees everywhere glitter with sprinklings of fresh green leaves sprouting and a slow tint of pinks, purples and white blossoms. The sudden urge to open ones windows, pull out furniture and clean corners that haven’t been touched in 6 months. Dogs beginning the long process of malting half their body weight in hair (…just ours then?!) There is new life and new beginnings as far as the eye can see. The air smells different and though it is still a little chilly, the rays of sun warm our faces with the promise of more to come.
A perfect union of the Egg & Easter/Spring don’t you think? This marriage is one that has been around in many cultures stretching back thousands of years across our planet. Stories past down through generation to generation of the age old narrative of creation being formed from an egg, one of rebirth and hope.
Ancient Egyptians, Greek, Oceanic, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Northern Europe, Nordic, Hindu and Pagan cultures, just to name a few all hold some importance in the symbolism of an egg. Many cultures believed that Earth and our world was created from an egg. In ancient Egyptian texts, Re, a primeval deity was a ‘cosmic egg’ in which all things were created. Sanskrit texts talk of ‘Brahmanda’ and an ‘egg-shaped cosmos’. Greek Orphic mythology tells of the hermaphroditic deity Phanes being hatched from an orphic egg and creating all the other gods. This is echoed in Chinese mythology that was worked on by Taoist monks with another hermaphroditic deity in an egg which was spilt in two, creating Earth and sky. And lastly from my examples, Elias Lönnrot in 1835 began to write down all the Finnish folklore stories and created a poem or song about creation which is the one at the start of this post.
In Pagan Britain people used to eat and swap eggs as a ritual at their Spring equinox celebrations. This tradition was then continued on with the spread of Christianity. You may have played a version of the Easter Egg smashing game today in your own homes. This comes from a Christian Eastern European tradition where you colour your eggs and then try and crack them on another’s egg. A bit like the autumnal conker cracking game. The one with the unbroken egg shell symbolises Jesus’ resurrection. The person holding it says, ‘Christ is Risen’. The one whose egg is cracked - theirs symbolises the gates of hell being shattered as a result of the resurrection. They reply, ‘He is Risen indeed.’
Fast forward to the 19th century and in 1875, John Cadbury created the dark chocolate egg. The tradition that still holds fast over a century later!
In 1885 Karl Gustavovich Fabergé a Russian jeweller was commissioned by Emperor Alexander III to create an Easter Egg that was to contain a piece of jewellery as a present to his wife. And so the legacy of the egg and Easter continued.
However you celebrate Easter, whether secular or religious, eggs will no doubt be a part of your weekend and month as shop shelves are already heaving with the weight of chocolate eggs everywhere.
To celebrate Easter and the Egg we have shared some of our own egg related posts and a couple of additional ones at the end by other bloggers. Enjoy!
edible stem play
2. Wax crayon resist
3. O, Easter Tree
salt dough egg ornaments
2. The Family Throw Down
outdoor family fun
3. Eggy play dough
sensory material exploration
4. Felt Easter Egg Matching
fine motor skill and preschool learning
5. Tissue Paper Staining Eggs
6. Natural Dying Easter eggs, by Delish.com
I am dying to try this one. I’ve bought a load of wooden eggs that we will be dying this week. We can’t wait to show you the results. We use food colouring a lot in our crafts so it’s going to be fun to try using natural ingredients to see how the colours stain.