Ever wonder how the Easter egg hunt got started and why a rabbit? You may be surprised to know that some of these traditions go back many centuries. In pre-Christian societies eggs held an association with spring and new life. Rabbits were also a symbol of new life. Christians adapted these beliefs making the egg a symbol of the resurrection. In medieval times eating eggs was forbidden during Lent and when the fast ended on Easter Sunday the feasting and merriment started. Eggs were considered an important part of this celebration. In 1290 Edward I purchased 450 eggs to be decorated with colours and gold leaf and distributed them to his household.
In the German Lutheran tradition the Easter egg hunt is linked to the Easter Bunny or Easter Hare called the “Osterhase”. The hare would bring a basket of brightly painted eggs for children who had been good. The hare hid the eggs around the house and garden for the children to find.
Like so many traditions it was Queen Victoria that really popularized this tradition. In April 1833, 14 year old Victoria wrote about her German born mother in her diary: “Mama did some pretty painted and ornamented eggs and we looked for them.”
Once Queen Victoria married the tradition was carried on by her German born husband, Prince Albert, who hid eggs in little moss baskets throughout the palace. In 1863 Queen Victoria describes an artificial Easter egg for baby Beatrice filled with a doll and doll clothes. For the Victorians and Edwardians the Easter egg tradition had moved away from a religious tradition and was instead more about a communal celebration centred on the family, home and pleasures of children.
The first chocolate eggs appeared in France and Germany in the early 19th Century. By the mid-20th century confectionery companies such as Fry’s and Cadbury had popularized the Easter egg hunt to help promote their own chocolate products.
This Good Friday and Easter Sunday Westfield is having a covid-friendly egg hunt. We have hidden 12 brightly coloured wooden eggs along our sugar shack trail. Can you find all 12 along the short hike in the woods? If you find one, take a picture of the egg or commit the egg to memory and head over to the General Store. Show your picture or describe one of the eggs to the shop keeper and receive a yummy maple treat. We also have our Maple Information Panels on display. Find out how sap is turned to syrup. The Gift Shop and General Store will be open on Friday, April 2 and Sunday, April 4 from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. Westfield is open 7 days a week from dawn to dusk for hiking and walking. Admission starts at $15.50 per car load.