The egg has long been symbolic of spring and rebirth. Christianity added a religious aspect to the egg, making it a symbol of the stone tomb from which life is resurrected.
It was the custom in very early Christian times to not eat eggs during Lent. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (a day of fasting) and lasts for the 46 days just before Easter Day. It is for the purpose of self-reflection, self-denial, repentance, prayer, thankfulness for our Savior, and basically to mirror in spirit the time that Jesus fasted for 40 days.
When Easter arrived, gaily-decorated eggs were often given and received as symbolic gifts of joy. Red eggs symbolized the blood of Christ. Those decorated with certain animals or other symbols also held special significance such as a pig for prosperity, or good luck was meant by a sun image. The rabbit signified abundance/continuing cycle of life, and in later years caught on as the Easter bunny with plenty of eggs to distribute.
Today, egg decorating for Easter is common to everyone, and in some cases has evolved into an art of its own.
One type of decorated egg takes several steps but is well worth the effort. Take hard-cooked white eggs, a variety of egg dye colors, and rubber cement. First step is to dye the eggs a pale color and let them dry. Drip rubber cement over them in swirls and let that dry. Paint the eggs again with a darker dye; let dry. Peel off the cement and behold a very pretty and striking egg for an Easter decoration.
For table decorations, take small leaves (celery leaves work fine) or flowers and use rubber cement to attach them to hard cooked eggs. After the cement dries, dye the eggs in pretty, preferably dark, Easter colors. When the leaves are removed, a unique spring-like pattern emerges.
Easter Egg Casserole
- 6 hard-cooked eggs
- 1 can deviled ham, small
- ½t prepared mustard
- 2C white sauce (combine 6T butter, 6T flour, 2C half-and-half)
- ½C bread crumbs, buttered
- Cut eggs in half, lengthwise.
- Put yolks in separate bowl and mash with fork. Work in the ham and mustard to make a smooth paste. (May add some basil if desired.) Add 2T of the white sauce.
- Fill halves of egg white with yolk mixture. Arrange eggs in bottom of a shallow baking dish and pour remaining white sauce over them. Sprinkle with paprika.
- Bake in preheated 300° oven until well heated, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Serve with English muffins and perhaps asparagus.
Melon wedges and strawberries with champagne help make this an especially lovely Easter brunch.
Alternative white sauce: Melt 1T butter over low heat. Stir in 1T flour, 1t chicken broth, ¼t dry mustard, and pinch white pepper. Let bubble for 1 minute before removing from heat. Stir in 1C milk or cream and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sauce becomes thick. If thicker sauce is desired, increase both butter and flour.