The smell of vinegar permeated our house the day before Easter. My mother boiled the eggs and set out tiny dishes with color dots in them to which she added boiled water and white vinegar. My brother and I eagerly waited while the color dots fizzed, dissolving, so we could dip our eggs into the various hues. We knew the next day we’d get Easter baskets filled with chocolate eggs and other small trinkets. It seems that folks didn’t worry so much back then about the pagan aspects of chocolate bunnies or marshmallow chicks. The general culture was much more Christian, many areas of the country were predominately Christian. There wasn’t such a full-throttle, all-out assault on Christian values and beliefs back then as we have now.
Today the plain white boiled egg in its shell reminds me of the boulder that was rolled to seal the tomb. I wonder what the two Marys and their friend thought that first Easter morning when they went with spices to the tomb to engage in typical funeral rites and found the stone had been removed. They were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome. They went very early, at sunrise. It was most likely still dark. When they first saw the stone rolled away, they must have been horrified, thinking vandals had desecrated the tomb. But then an angel told them He is gone and they left with great joy and fear. I can understand both the joy and the fear. How fearfully wonderful that moment must have been.
I love to do research. I’ve done tons of it for my Sanctuary Point series of romantic thrillers, set in a fictitious seaside village on Long Island, NY in the mid-1940s. In the spirit of investigation, I decided to do some fun research about Easter eggs.
The following is not a heavy theological treatise, but merely an explanation of how things evolved in culture. I wanted to discover if there was any early Christian symbolism to Easter eggs. Not surprisingly there was. The hardboiled egg is present on the Passover plate and of course, the very earliest Christians were Jews. It would be quite natural for ancient Christian people to use symbols they readily had on hand, and one of the early symbols of the resurrection Christians used was the boiled egg. Just as the shell of the egg must be broken so that new life can emerge, the seal of the tomb was broken as Jesus rose.
It’s not unusual when symbols carry over from an old context or scenario to a new one that new meaning will be attached. And of course Christians look to Scripture to find that meaning. I often think the pretty-colored eggs symbolize the glorified body of Christ. The egg was a rather plain thing, but then little hands of children dipped them in colored, vinegary water, and viola something of beauty emerged. Yes, it’s all symbolic. And yet, my mind drifts to these thoughts and I dedicate them in worship to my Lord.
Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chairman, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. BURNING HEARTS is the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series, published by Desert Breeze. GOODBYE NOEL, the second book in the series was released in December, 2011. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning).