How Lamb, Chocolate and Eggs Became Easter Traditions

Around the world people are gearing up to celebrate Easter with friends and family. There are different cultural aspects that influence the festivities, however, there are three things that most celebrations have in common: lamb, chocolate and eggs. Let’s take a look at how these three foods became Easter traditions.

Why is Lamb an Iconic Easter Dish?

For Christians, the tradition of eating lamb on Easter is symbolic of the sacrifice that Jesus made for them when he died on the Cross for their sins. Previous to this event, Christians had to offer a sacrificed animal such as a lamb to God as restitution for the sins they committed. Pascha, or Easter, is the day when Christians commemorate Jesus’ sacrifice and eat lamb in remembrance of his selfless act.

However, lambs have had a special symbolic place in Passover observances even before the birth of Christianity. According to Exodus, in Egypt the people suffered from disease and plague as well as an epidemic of the death of all firstborn sons. Jews would often paint the red blood of a sacrificed lamb on their home’s doorposts in hopes that God would pass over their house when exacting punishment for sins to claim the life of the household’s firstborn son.

Chocolates, the Victorian Age and Cadbury

Chocolate came into the picture as an Easter favorite in the Victorian age when the custom of giving and receiving the sweet treat became all the rage with Cadbury’s famous Easter chocolates. By 1983 the company offered 19 different product lines for Easter and the trend continues today with many chocolate Easter egg molds and gift boxes — including the famous chocolate Easter eggs from the Cadbury bunny!

The Story Behind Easter Eggs

For Christian believers the egg itself is symbolic of the empty tomb that Jesus left behind as he rose from the ground after his crucifixion.

The red dye which the eggs are dipped in is meant to represent the blood of Jesus who sacrificed himself on the cross for all of mankind, while the color of red itself also plays an important role as it is considered the color of life and victory. Eggs have been stained this blood-red color in remembrance of Jesus dating back to ancient Mesopotamia.

Traditionally, the Greek Orthodox Christians dye their Easter eggs red on Holy Thursday in commemoration of the Last Supper, known as Jesus’ last meal before he was crucified.

In other parts of the wild such as the United States and the United Kingdom, the eggs are dyed bright colors and hidden as a part of an egg hunt game or used for egg rolls, such as the famous White House lawn egg role that has taken place since 1878.