And so it starts… the annual season of the dreadful pun is upon us.
‘Eggsellent News!’, ‘We’ve got some cracking deals’, ‘Eggstrordinary Offers’ - the trickle of spam emails will steadily turn into a tide of tired and hackneyed puns that are routinely regurgitated and resurrected each year. But it got me thinking… why eggs? What has an egg got to do with one of the most significant events in the Christian calendar?
A little bit of digging online would suggest that it’s not just Christians who have been venerating the humble egg, and that humans have been decorating eggs for many millennia. Research by Cambridge University archaeologist and academic Dr Brian Stewart has uncovered engraved ostrich eggs on the African continent that date back over 60,000 years! I suppose it’s not that difficult to see why eggs should be seen like this, being both a powerful symbol of fertility and rebirth.
It is believed that the Christian custom of decorating eggs for Easter goes back to at least the 4th century when early Mesopotamians stained eggs red to symbolise the blood shed at Christ’s crucifixion. The practice was officially adopted by the church sometime later, who regarded eggs as a symbol of resurrection - the hollow eggs representing the empty tomb of Jesus perhaps?
I suppose that it’s the creative in me that finds it a little sad that the tradition for hand-painting (chicken) eggs has largely died out, replaced by the simple act of purchasing a manufactured chocolate egg. The often gaudy wrappers and packaging have superseded the time and pleasure to be had in carefully creating your own Easter egg design (and proudly showing it off to your other family members!).
That said, the creative industries relish the challenges offered by the Easter season, with fabulous examples of design and innovative packaging seen every year. The vast majority of eggs purchased will be the big name brands on offer from the likes of Cadbury, Nestle and Lindt etc. but there is some great work being done by the increasing number of smaller independents. Just check out these couple of Pinterest boards to see what I’m on about.
Whatever your beliefs here are a few chocolatey Easter egg facts that you might find interesting:
- the first chocolate egg was produced in Britain in 1873 by Fry’s (and it was completely solid!)
- the most popular egg consumed in the world is the Cadbury’s Creme Egg (500 million are made each year!) which first went on sale in 1971.
- Briton’s spend about 10% of their total chocolate spend at Easter.
- 80 million (approx) chocolate eggs are sold (and consumed!) in the UK each year.
- on average only 38% of an Easter Egg box is actually Easter Egg!
- In 2014 the UK Easter Egg market was estimated to be be worth a whopping £365 million.
Finally can I take the opportunity to wish you a very Happy Easter from all of us here at Toucan - we hope you have a most ‘eggsellent’ time of course!