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Easter eggs: Why do we eat them every year?

Chocolate Easter eggs (Getty Images)
Chocolate was not always the gift given at Easter. (Getty Images)

Chocolate is one of the treats we most look forward to at Easter time (and all year round), but have you ever wondered what it has to do with the holiday and the resurrection of Christ?

According to English Heritage, Brits buy around 80 million Easter eggs per year – that's at least one egg for every person in the UK.

It says that people have given eggs to each other at spring festivals throughout history to celebrate the new season as eggs represent new life and rebirth.

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During the medieval period, eating eggs was forbidden during Lent – the 40 days before Easter – so many people chose to eat an egg on Easter Sunday.

English Heritage says the first iteration of the chocolate egg was sold by Fry's in 1873, and then by Cadbury in 1875. While these eggs were initially made with dark chocolate, when Cadbury introduced its Dairy Milk chocolate in 1905, it began making its Easter eggs with this sweeter chocolate.

“With the rise of Christianity in Western Europe, the church adapted many pagan customs and the egg, as a symbol of new life, came to represent the resurrection,” Cadbury explains in its 'History of Easter' fact sheet.

“Some Christians regarded the egg as a symbol for the stone being rolled from the sepulchre.”

According to Cadbury, chocolate was not always the gift given at Easter and people were originally given decorated hen or duck eggs.

Cadbury Twisted Creme Egg candy in womans hand with background of Cadbury candies. (Getty Images)
Creme egg flavour is one of Cadbury's more modern favourites. (Getty Images)

Toys shaped like eggs were introduced in the 17th and 18th centuries, with some filled with chocolates.

This then led to the development of chocolate eggs, now responsible for the Easter eggs we see displayed in our supermarkets sometimes as early as the start of the year.

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“Chocolate Easter eggs were first made in Europe in the early 19th century, with France and Germany taking the lead in this new artistic confectionary,” Cadbury explains.

“Some early eggs were solid as the technique for mass-producing moulded chocolate had not been devised.

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“The production of the first hollow chocolate eggs must have been painstaking as the moulds were lined with paste chocolate one at a time.”

Cadbury says on its website its earliest chocolate eggs were made of dark chocolate and filled with sugared almonds.

The chocolate giant introduced the Cadbury Creme Egg in 1971 ad now makes around 500 million of the small eggs each year.

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