Reader Cynthia writes in to ask a very cool question: why are eggs and chicks associated with Easter? They have no strict religious significance (i.e. they don’t occur in the Bible anywhere) so…what gives?
The reason I like that question is because just about everywhere you see it asked, the response is the same thin gruel of warmed-over paganism. The goddess Eostre etc., etc., symbols of fertility yadda yadda, cycle of renewal blabbity blabbity. It’s all so much thoughtless gibberish.
The reason we moderns have no idea why eggs and chicks have become synonymous with Easter is because we have no concept of life before industrially-raised chickens (and eggs). Much before World War II most eggs were produced on small farms via traditional methods, which pretty much meant leaving chickens to their own devices.
When you do that you don’t get eggs in the winter, as the hens stop laying from about November through to about March. Prior to the age of egg farms, when hens started laying again it was cause for celebration, sort of akin to raspberries coming into season. Easter is an early spring holiday, so it’s natural that Easter and egg-eating (and chick hatching) would all sort of meld together.
It’s sort of like the way us northern-hemisphere Christians celebrate Christmas with oranges. We don’t do it because the Great Mystical Minute Maid once told our pagan ancestors to do it, it’s because we’ve missed the taste of fresh citrus for months and suddenly they’re available. That is all.