The egg has long been a symbol of rebirth and fertility. Thousands of years ago, a simple bird's egg might have been a gift, often painted so as to celebrate the colours and the vibrancy that marked the coming of the spring, when the sun god stirred to life again.
With the coming of Christianity, the egg continued to be used as a symbol of the faith. In 1307, Edward I’s household accounts included the following entry: 18 pence for 459 eggs to be boiled and dyed or covered with gold leaf and distributed to the royal household.
If you also want a golden egg, wrap a chicken's egg in onion skins, secure the skins with string or rubber bands, then simmer in a pan of water for up to an hour – by which time the egg should be marbled gold.
Then again, you might prefer a more valuable alternative, such as the flawless jewelled affairs created by Carl Faberge in the nineteenth century for the Russian Czar and Czarina, each marvellous egg constructed of enamelled platinum, and containing a smaller golden one.
A Faberge egg
Such a rare and priceless gift is unlikely to find its way into our hands this Easter morning. But many children's fingers will be sticky from holding chocolate ~ the melting quality of which makes it possible to mould into egg shaped confectionery.
Price list for some of the earliest Cadbury's Easter eggs
The first chocolate eggs were developed in France and also Germany. In England, in 1842, John Cadbury constructed the first of the solid chocolate eggs. But, not until 1875, when a press was used to separate the cocoa butter from the bean, could a finer chocolate be made, much easier to melt and mould. The first commercial Easter eggs were made of smooth plain chocolate and filled with small dragees, or sweets, but other designs soon followed on, with icing decorations and flowers made of marzipan, their boxes wrapped with ribbons ... just as they still are today.
For a related post, see: THE SWEET SUCCESS OF CADBURY'S.