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Our Blog: Chocolate Talk

Why Do We Eat Chocolate Eggs and Bunnies on Easter?

Here at Hedonist, we never need an excuse to eat chocolate. Nevertheless, Easter is a pretty big deal for us and the rest of the chocolate industry. After Halloween, Easter is the best-selling candy and chocolate holiday in America. This time of year, you'll see shelves with chocolate eggs and bunnies - some solid, some filled with gooey caramel or almonds. But before you nibble the ears off that rabbit... how did chowing down on chocolate become such an integral part of Easter to begin with?

Easter indulgence

Remember that Easter occurs at the end of Lent, a period of 40 days of fasting and contemplation observed by some Christians. Maybe you or someone you know has given up something for Lent - sweets and alcohol are popular choices. Back in medieval times, fasting was a little more rigorous, with many people giving up all meat and animal products, including dairy and eggs. Once Easter arrived, it was feast time, and people celebrated by indulging in all those rich and forbidden foods again. They certainly wouldn’t have been feasting on chocolate in the Middle Ages, but in modern times, indulging in a box of truffles once April 1 hits only makes sense.

Okay, so why eggs and bunnies?

The two most prominent symbols of Easter, eggs and bunnies, crop up in chocolate form every Spring. The egg has been a symbol of new life since ancient times, and in Christianity it came to represent the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Easter tradition of decorating eggs is thought to go back as far as the 13th century. Since eggs were also commonly forbidden during Lent (see above), Christians would paint and decorate the eggs during the 40-day fast and then eat them during Easter celebrations.

As for bunnies, these fluffy critters are also widely associated with fertility and birth (you’ve probably heard the phrase, “breeding like rabbits”). Rabbits are a common theme in medieval Christian art, often pictured alongside the Virgin Mary. The hare was a common symbol of Easter in Germany, where children set out nests to be filled with colored eggs by a hare called Oschter Haws. In the early 1700s, large numbers of German immigrants began immigrating to Pennsylvania and brought Oschter Haws with them, laying the foundation for the modern-day Easter Bunny.

But why chocolate?

True, chocolate isn't the only sweet treat we indulge in at Easter (jelly beans also have a long association with the holiday). But at about the same time that Germans were arriving in America by the thousands, the Industrial Revolution was ramping up. In addition to transforming the textile and iron industries, the Industrial Revolution launched the modern-day chocolate industry. With new mechanization processes, chocolate evolved from an expensive beverage consumed only by upper classes into a less expensive, solid food. The first chocolate bar came on the scene in Europe in the mid-1800s, and other molded chocolate shapes quickly followed. Germany in particular gained a reputation for producing elaborate tin chocolate molds. It’s no wonder, then, that chocolate Easter bunnies and their accompanying eggs caught on in the late 19th century. Judging by the Easter treats we now see every year, their popularity shows no signs of slowing down.

Your modern-day Easter celebrations, then, are a product of ancient symbolism, Lenten restraint, immigration, and the advent of eating (rather than drinking) chocolate. No matter how you choose to celebrate the occasion, a little chocolate can make the season even more special. Browse our full line of Easter products by clicking here.

 
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