egg carton

spring tradition

The Greeks, Chinese and Persians exchanged eggs at spring festivals long before the Christian festival of Easter. Eggs were considered symbolic of the first sign of spring, and of fertility. They were also associated with magic because of the inexplicable birth of a living creature from such a strange object. To harness the eggs’ special powers, people would bury them beneath the foundations of buildings to ward off evil, and they’d be placed on thresholds for newlyweds to step over when they entered their homes for the first time.

the message is in the egg

Eggs have also been used to smuggle secret messages. During the Spanish Inquisition, Italian scholar, polymath and playwright Giambattista della Porta found a way to write secret messages on the inside of the unbroken shell. Seemingly intact, they were the only thing not checked at the gate of the prison where some of his friends were being held.
How did he do it? First, della Porta wrote on the egg shell using a mixture of plant pigments and alum. The ink penetrated the shell, and once it had dried, he boiled the egg in hot water and the ink on the outside washed away. The recipient in prison peeled off the shell to reveal the message on the egg white.

egg face

Like the prison guards, it never occurred to us to write on the inside of eggs, but growing up, we used to scoop out and eat our boiled eggs carefully so we didn’t break the shell. Then we’d turn the shell upside down in the egg cup and draw faces on the outside. Inevitably, we’d tell mum we weren’t hungry so we weren’t going to eat our eggs today. Of course, she never fell for it. My sister Vanessa always drew the best faces. Look at the ones we drew this Easter. We might not be eggstraordinarily gifted artists, but it’s all good fun. Which one do you like best? Vote in  the comments, and while you’re here, share your egg stories.


egg art

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8 thoughts on “eggs”

  1. I like the face on the egg in the top row, far left. I love eggs! We ate scrambled eggs, that my grandmother made, nearly every morning when I was growing up. Every year on Good Friday we dye eggs. One year we boiled the eggs with different vegetables to see what colors we could make. The children didn’t find that very exciting, so now we stick to the food coloring way. My most eggciting story happened when I was seven. My auntie hid eggs outside for us to find and before we got to her house a group of snakeswrapped themselves around a few of the eggs under a log. No one touched those eggs!

    1. Thanks for voting, Kim! Oh no! Did anyone go back the next day to see if the snakes ate the eggs? And I’m curious, did the vegetables color the eggs at all?

  2. My favorite is the third from the left in the back row. 👍👍
    As a child, I loved to eat Easter eggs, But I really enjoyed only the white. Unfortunately, my parents would not allow wastefulness so I had to eat the yolk as well. One year when I was quite young, and with a house full of company, I decided to get it overwith quickly so I popped the whole yolk in my mouth at once. Little did I realize how that dry, yellow, disgusting ball would expand and fill that little mouth. Since I was forced to keep it there until I managed to get it down, I have never forgotten my most humiliating Easter nightmare.
    I now think the yolk is the best part of an egg, but never all in one bite!

  3. I second Gloria’s vote for back row #3.
    In my house, I was allowed to dip toast in the dippy part of the egg (I wouldn’t even touch the whites), and then grandpa would eat the leftovers. I grew up with my grandparents, so they may have doted on me… 🙂

    1. We used to have the toast cut into strips, we called them soldiers. Your childhood sounds rather idyllic. Three cheers for grandparents! And thank you for voting!

  4. Hilary,
    Love your stories! I think the best-drawn egg face is the one in the back row, farthest right. However, my favorite is the one in the back row, farthest left. I love her sideways look at the rest, as though saying, I don’t know about these characters.
    My best egg story is that of my grandson’s first Easter egg hunt. In the little town where he lives, chickens are allowed to roam free. And, as you probably have guessed, one of those chickens happened to have laid an egg under a shrub, and Joey found it, thinking it was one of the eggs that was part of the hunt. He was so enamored of the whole process, and was gentle with everything he picked up as he was in awe, that the fresh egg was left intact.

    1. Happy Monday, Denise! Thank you for sharing. That far left egg is a sly, indeed. And what an egg story! I can just imagine his awe and wonder when he picked up the real egg.

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