Easter is here and with it comes all of the traditions that we know and love – flowers hanging outside of churches, children painting hard-boiled eggs, and baskets filled with chocolate. It’s these traditions that make Easter such a great time to be with family and friends, but have you ever wondered where they came from? And why chocolate?
The name Easter – along with the bunny and the eggs – comes from the Germanic fertility goddess, Eostre. Eostre’s celebration is on the Spring Equinox and is characterized by rabbits and eggs as symbols of fertility. In one version of Eostre’s mythology, she once found a bird dying in the cold and turned it into a furry rabbit (to stay warm). The rabbit, however, still laid eggs like a bird and would paint the eggs as gifts to Eostre as payback.
Easter Sunday is actually a stirred pot of traditions from all over the world.
The theme of fertility, rebirth, and renewal is the common thread tying many Easter traditions together. Flowers on churches, dying eggs red and smashing them together (Greek Orthodox), and of course children’s Easter egg hunts.
But what about chocolate? How did chocolate become a part of Easter tradition? For centuries, Christians have been preparing for Easter over the course of the 40 days prior to the holiday called Lent. In these preparations, they would often make personal dietary sacrifices (another tradition we still practice) such as meat and eggs. Giving up eggs was so common that Easter Sunday would often be called Egg Sunday and would be celebrated by gifting and eating eggs presented in straw-filled baskets. Over the course of time, this practice became a children’s game where parents would gift little chocolate eggs in baskets. This was due to the rising demand and accessibility of fine chocolates in the late 19th century and its status as a modern-day Lent sacrifice.
So that’s how chocolate got in the Easter basket and why it still lives there today. With such specialty chocolates being made around the world, it’s hard not to fall in love with this tradition.
Try one of Aunt Sally’s signature chocolates like our Triple Chocolate Creole or chocolate-covered pecans. They make a great gift and a perfect new Easter tradition.