Easter egg origins: where did the chocolate tradition come from?
8 Mar 2022
Ever wondered why we eat chocolate eggs at Easter? Here’s the history behind these delicious spring treats
It’s no surprise that chocolate is a key part of many celebrations. From Christmas tree decorations to Valentine’s hearts, it brings a touch of joy and indulgence. Many of these seem rather intuitive: hearts represent love and romance, for example. But have you ever wondered why we have egg-shaped chocolate at Easter? Well, let’s explore Easter egg origins so you can enjoy your chocolate delights even more this year.
Easter egg origins: why do we celebrate with eggs?
Easter marks the beginning of spring — a time of blooming flowers, frolicking lambs, and hatching chicks. The spring months are filled with rebirth and fertility, and eggs are a clear symbol of this.
What’s more, from Christianity and Paganism to the Ancient Egyptians and Babylonians, eggs feature in spring holidays in many cultures and religions.
The Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring — the resurrection of nature after winter — was called Eostre, a name that would later develop into ‘Easter’. As part of the Eostre celebrations, people would eat eggs and possibly bury them, too. This was a ritual designed to encourage fertile land for a successful harvest in the autumn.
The Easter egg also has ties to Christianity, where it represented the resurrection of Christ. The shell symbolised the tomb that held Jesus’ body. What’s more, Lent fasting was far stricter in the medieval period; Christians weren’t allowed to eat any animal products during this time. It’s thought that they would hard-boil any eggs their chickens laid during Lent so they could eat them on Easter Sunday as part of a feast. This sounds like a great form of preservation, but we would argue they weren’t quite as tasty as our chunky, hard-boiled Brownie Easter Egg…
As well as eating the eggs, people would paint them and give them to the church on Good Friday as a blessing. It seems that this was the beginning of Easter egg gifting. Red was a popular colour choice, symbolising Christ’s resurrection.
For a fun Easter craft, why not try and paint your own hard-boiled eggs?
Easter egg hunt origins
Over time, Easter eggs found their way into games and activities. And by the 1500s, people would hide colourful eggs for others to find.
An Easter egg hunt is still a great way to keep all the family entertained. Why not take a look at our guide to hosting your own?
What about chocolate Easter egg origins?
As gifting Easter eggs developed into a tradition, chocolatiers thought it might be nice to create a delicious confectionery version. The first chocolate Easter eggs appeared in Europe in the 1800s. Initially, they were made from dark chocolate and had a smooth, plain texture. However, milk chocolate Easter eggs came onto the market in the 1870s.
Nowadays, Easter eggs are available in more flavours and varieties than you can shake a stick at! At Hotel Chocolat, we have a little something for everyone — from tiny Speckled Eggs that are ideal for decorating cakes with (or nibbling as a snack) to our gargantuan Ostrich Eggs. With over a kilogram of high-cacao chocolate, truffles, pralines, caramels, and more to enjoy, these decadent delights are a truly opulent Easter offering. They’re a luxurious take on the traditional egg shape.
Rather than keeping our Easter eggs thin and hollow, each of our Ostrich Eggs is rich and textured, with a chunky melt-in-the-mouth shell. They’re also brimming with treats to keep you going throughout the Easter holidays. Will you go for Classic, Patisserie, Dark or Nutmilk?
Who is the Easter bunny?
We can’t discuss Easter egg origins without paying homage to their festive companion, the Easter Bunny. Children worldwide know that, on Easter morning, this friendly rabbit will hide delicious chocolate eggs for them to find and enjoy.
Nobody is totally sure how the Easter bunny came about! However, as both hares and eggs were seen as symbols of fertility, they somehow became intertwined.
Nowadays, bunnies, lambs, and other adorable animals are regular chocolate characters at Easter. Unwrapping a gorgeously-crafted Milk Chocolate Easter Bunny is as synonymous with this event as unpacking a traditional chocolate egg.
In fact, chocolate critters, like our Chocolate Pen Pals and Pistachio Chocolate Bunnies, are excellent treats for little ones. Petite but packed with flavour, their cute features will appeal to kids. And our high-cacao recipe means they’re not overloaded with excess sugar.
With white, caramel-milk, dark, and unbelievably vegan* Nutmilk options available, there are plenty of child-friendly nibbles to choose from to suit all tastes. (*Please note that although our Nutmilk chocolate doesn’t have any dairy ingredients, it is produced in the same factory as our milk chocolate. As such, we can’t guarantee it is free from milk traces).
Quirky Easter egg treats from Hotel Chocolat
Fancy something a little out of the ordinary? At Hotel Chocolat, we adore coming up with innovative new designs and flavour combinations. If you’re looking for something original, take a look at our quirky twists on the traditional Easter egg shape.
Our Caramayo Chocolate Easter Sandwich is a light-hearted, fun alternative to the classic oval, inspired by a breakfast buttie. With takeout box packaging and an authentic sandwich shape and texture created by 3D-scanning real slices of bread, it’s sure to make you smile. But it’s not style over substance, either — a high cacao butter content gives these white chocolate ‘eggs’ a silky smooth texture and irresistible subtle sweetness.
Alternatively, there’s the fun ‘splat’ feature on our 70% Dark Chocolate Easter Egg. It brings together rich dark chocolate and a striking ‘egg white and yolk’ made from creamy cacao butter. A cracking egg that breaks the Easter mould!
Now you know a little more about Easter egg origins, it’s up to you whether you go for a luxurious classic egg or something a little bit different. Whatever you’re after, we’re sure you’ll find it in our extensive Easter collection.