MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Easter is near, and the egg hunts are here! Most people know that Easter is an international and multicultural celebration of life and renewal, but the reasoning choice of some symbols, like the egg and bunny, are not as well known.
Easter's timing intersects with Lent, and rise of Christ, along with Nowruz, which is the Iranian New Year. The egg, which is a symbol of fertility and life, is often a popular Easter treat paint, find and eat.
Decorating eggs is one of the oldest Easter customs in existence. The Outreach Center Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University published a journal where the historical origin of decorating eggs during spring in the Middle East was explored. Most commonly, eggs were decorated during Nowruz, which is celebrated around the spring equinox.
According to the History Channel, decorated eggs were commonly given as gifts by royals and the socially elite during the early 19th century. Russian Czar Alexander III popularized jewel-encrusted eggs when he had artist Peter Carl Fabergé design some for his wife.
In Western European countries, many churches forbade the consumption of eggs during lent, so on Easter, they were cooked to celebrate the end of lent along with the rise of Christ, and new life.
Some Catholic churches dye boiled eggs red to represent Christ's rebirth. The Orthodox Church in America organization credits the red egg to the legend of St. Mary Magdalene traveling to Rome soon after the resurrection, and meeting the Emperor. Once she met the Emperor she presented him with a red egg, and exclaimed "Christ is risen". Though the practice has faded in some areas over the years, some churches still celebrate inscribing the initials "C.R." for "Christ is Risen" in gold letters on the surface of the egg.