Spring is just around the corner and it will soon be followed by Easter. The holiday is surrounded by various traditions from going to church on Easter Sunday to celebrating with a traditional family dinner. Another holiday favorite is the Easter egg hunt. For many, this has been part of the holiday celebrations for generations, but you might be surprised to learn that the origin of the Easter egg hunt goes back even further.
History of the Easter Egg Hunt
It is believed the tradition of the Easter egg hunt originated in 16th-century Germany and was organized by Protestant reformer Martin Luther. He would have the men hide the eggs for the women and children to find.
As a child in the early 1800s, Queen Victoria’s love of Easter egg hunts helped them to become more popular. Her mother, the German-born Duchess of Kent, decorated the eggs and then hid them for the children to find. Victoria and Albert continued the tradition for their children. Albert would hide the eggs in little moss baskets on the Thursday before Easter, known as Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday, a Christian holiday to commemorate the Last Supper. Victoria referenced the egg hunts many times in her journals.
The eggs were boiled back then but, of course, they didn’t have the packaged dye kits we have today. The eggs were colored in a couple of different ways. One was to boil them with onion skins. This gave the eggshells a beautiful rich golden hue. The eggs could also be wrapped in gorse flowers before boiling them. This would create a delicate yellow and brown pattern on the eggshells. The popularity of the Easter egg hunt grew and spread over the year into the modern-day egg hunts we have today.
Easter Egg Rolling
In the UK, rolling the decorated eggs down grassy hills is an annual tradition that also goes back hundreds of years. In the United States, the egg roll is normally held on Easter Monday and hosted by the President and First Lady. It is a race where children roll the eggs across the lawn with a long-handled spoon. The tradition began with James and Dolly Madison in 1814. Over the years, it has been held in various locations throughout Washington D.C. and Alexandria, Virginia.
After a particularly spirited egg roll at the Capital that destroyed much of its lawn, Congress passed a law banning the egg rolling on the Capitol grounds. In 1878, President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife Lucy Hayes brought the event to the White House lawns.
Different administrations have put their own spin on the holiday tradition. In April 1969, the tradition of an official White House Easter Bunny was born. The costume was worn by one of First Lady Patricia Nixon’s staff members, who greeted and shook hands with children on the circular driveway. 1981 President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan hosted a hunt for wooden eggs that bore the signatures of famous people. Wooden eggs soon became the official White House Easter Egg Roll keepsakes.
Why an Egg?
There are a few theories on why the egg is such an important part of Easter traditions. Because it is commonly considered a symbol of rebirth, in Christianity it represents the resurrection of Jesus. Others believe the egg and its symbolism are derived from ancient pagan traditions such as the feast of Ēostre. Through the ages, many pagan traditions were adopted into Christian festivities. Also in ancient times during Lent, eggs were among the many foods Christians weren’t allowed to eat. They were considered a treat by the time Easter rolled around.
The Annual Easter Egg Hunt at Oasis Family Farm
If you’re looking for an Easter egg hunt the whole family can enjoy, look no further than Oasis Family Farm. It is one of our most popular annual events. This year our Easter egg hunt will be held on March 27 & 28 and April 2 & 3 from 10 am to 4 pm. We will be closed on Easter Sunday.
In addition to the egg hunt, the Fun Zone will be open and the animals will be out. It will be a whole day of family fun. Due to COVID, we are taking the necessary precautions and ask that all of our visitors wear masks and practice social distancing while on the farm. For more information about the Easter egg hunt and any of our other attractions or events on you can visit our website or contact us at 609-259-7300