We take a look at the significance of eggs in cultures ancient and modern all around the world.
In Ancient Egypt one of the creation myths that explained how the world came into being was related to an egg. The Chaos Goose and the Chaos Gander got together and created the Chaos Egg, out of which was born the sun.
For many Pacific Islanders the god Ta’aroa is the creator of the world, maker of life and death, and of himself from ‘within the darkness of the cosmic egg’. When the time was right he cracked open the eggshell and emerged into the void, for nothing yet existed. It was Ta’aroa who made the universe.
Many African tribes share several common cosmic egg creation myths. One version tells the story of the supreme god Amma who mated with the Earth creating an egg. When the egg hatched twin Nummo gods emerged and created the universe.
Eggs and Ceremonies
Malay weddings feature bunga telur, a gift given out to guests to wish the happy couple be blessed with children.
Originally a simple hard-boiled egg, the presentation of bunga telur became more elaborate over time. Sometimes the egg is intricately tied up in a handkerchief to resemble a flower or bouquet, hence the name ‘flower egg.’
Many Asian families will be familiar with the Chinese First or Full Month ceremony when a baby reaches the end of his or her first month after birth.
Sometimes called a naming ceremony, one of the many traditions associated with mǎnyuè (满月) is the distribution of hard-boiled eggs dyed red for luck and signifying new birth and renewal.
Fecundity not only applies to human reproduction but also to food production. As part of the Rites of Spring, farmers in Germany would smear eggs on their ploughs to encourage a good harvest. This ancient fertility rite goes back to pre-Christian times.
An Irish tradition that is sadly dying out takes place on the first Monday after Easter. Known as ‘trundling the eggs’, families dye eggs then enjoy a day out, usually with a picnic, on a nearby hill or mountainside.
The children roll the eggs down the slope. Some traditions say if the egg remains unbroken you will have luck for the rest of the year.
The Ukraine is famous with its highly decorated pysanky eggs. Using wax and dyes, eggs are given intricate patterns with symbolic meanings, for example, diamonds are for knowledge and spirals protect against evil.
The world’s biggest pysanka egg, measuring 14 metres high and 10 around, is in the Ukraine, of course.
Finally, we have to mention the most fabulous eggs the world has ever known. The first jewel-encrusted Fabergé egg was created in 1885 by Russian jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé as a gift from the Tsar to his wife.
The tradition continued into the next generation until the 1917 Russian Revolution, which is why only 50 Imperial Eggs were made. Of those only 43 are known to have survived.