Skip to content

Are Easter eggs pagan?

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
4/21/2019 (6 months ago)
Catholic Online (

Is the Easter egg a pagan symbol?

Easter eggs are a traditional part of modern Easter celebrations, but their origins are shrouded in history, raising questions about their use in Christian celebrations. There is worry they are symbols of paganism. Is this true?

Are Easter eggs a pagan symbol?

Are Easter eggs a pagan symbol?


By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
Catholic Online (
4/21/2019 (6 months ago)

Published in Lent / Easter

Keywords: Easter, egg, pagan, tradition, history

LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - The Easter egg is a beautiful and fun tradition of the season, often celebrated by children who paint and hunt them. The egg has long been seen as a symbol of fertility and life. This view is virtually universal and ancient. As such, eggs have been important symbols in other religious traditions, and not just in Christianity. 

Since Christianity was heavily influenced by Roman paganism, which it supplanted, many have accused the egg of being a pagan symbol. Jehovah's Witnesses and atheists are fond of pointing this out to Christians, and arguing that Christians should eschew the egg for that reason. 

The good news is, the Easter egg in Christian tradition has a much humbler origin, and nothing to do with ancient pagan practices. 

The Easter egg as a symbol of the season dates back to Medieval Europe and the Lenten practices of that time. In Medieval Europe, people were divided by class, the two most numerous were peasants and serfs. Serfs were tied to the land, and lived as virtual slaves to their lords. In exchange for their life of servitude, they were given enough food to sustain themselves. Serfs were often afforded small gardens they could use to supplement their diets. Peasants were traditionally more free, and some became prosperous, a sort of primitive middle-class in medieval society. As such, they had to fend for themselves, but often tended small herds or flocks which could include chickens. 

Chickens were a popular source of protein for medieval people. They required only a modicum of space and a little feed. In return they provided eggs and meat which often served as the primary source of protein for these people. Hunting was often highly restricted and the feudal lord often had rights to the choicest cuts. This left eggs as a ready source of protein for both peasants and humble serfs. 

Lenten observations of the medieval period were more strict than they are today. Specifically, people refrained from all meat and dairy products during the entire 40 days of Lent, and this included eggs. As a result, many eggs were lost during the early part of the season. 

Towards the end of Lent however, eggs could be harvested and hard-boiled to preserve them long enough to keep until Easter. On Easter, Lenten fasts would be broken and the most common treat was usually an egg. As a result, the egg became a symbol of the holiday for the common people. 

The symbolism of the egg as a sign of new life would not have been lost on Medieval people. In fact, as the practice of taking eggs for food was stopped during Lent, the season was likely a time when eggs were allowed to be fertilized and hatched, increasing the size of flocks. And Easter would also be a good time to cull the older, less producing hens from the flock and taking their meat. 

The practice of painting and hunting the eggs developed much later. There is today an extensive mythology surrounding egg painting and hunting and other practices associated with the eggs. Suffice to say,  such traditions are highly varied across cultures. 

The good news is, the Easter egg in modern tradition does not come from paganism as popularly believed. It was a common way for people to break their strict Lenten fasts, and as such became a prominent symbol of the season. 


'Help Give every Student and Teacher FREE resources for a world-class Moral Catholic Education'

Copyright 2019 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK


More Lent & Easter

'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead'

Luke 24:46

Lent Event


Ash Wednesday

March 6, 2019

Image of Ash Wednesday

Palm Sunday

April 14, 2019

Image of Palm Sunday

Holy Week

April 14-20, 2019

Image of Holy Week

Holy Thursday

April 18, 2019

Image of Holy Thursday

Good Friday

April 19, 2019

Image of Good Friday

Easter Sunday

April 21, 2019

Image of Easter Sunday

Stations of the Cross

Every Friday

Image of Stations of the Cross

Buy yours Today!

Fasting and Abstinence

Every Friday

Image of Fasting and Abstinence

Image of What did you give up for Lent?

Ascension of Our Lord

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Image of Ascension of Our Lord


Sunday, June 9, 2019

Image of Pentecost

Image of Lent FAQ's

Mardi Gras

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Image of Mardi Gras

Image of Transformed by Easter

Image of Appearances

Image of Easter Gifts

Easter / Lent News

What do we do AFTER Lent?

Image of Easter Sunday begins the liturgical season of Easter, which continues through the celebration of the Ascension to Pentecost Sunday.

Chocolate bunnies and marshmallow Peeps have graced the shelves of U.S. stores for weeks in anticipation of Easter, but now that the actual ... continue reading

Easter: We Have Been Raised with Christ. Easter is More Than a Day; it is a Way Watch

Image of The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Easter is more than a Day, it is a Way; A Way of living our lives differently now in Him. We are invited to do that by living them in His ... continue reading

The surprising origins of the Easter Bunny -- it's not what you think! Watch

Image of Rejoice! The beloved Easter Bunny has very Christian origins.

The Easter Bunny is a symbol of Easter that is popular in western culture, especially with children. According to folklore, the Easter ... continue reading

Are Easter eggs pagan? Watch

Image of Are Easter eggs a pagan symbol?

Easter eggs are a traditional part of modern Easter celebrations, but their origins are shrouded in history, raising questions about their ... continue reading

5 Beautiful scriptures to remind you what Easter is all about Watch

Image of Remember the reason we celebrate Easter.

This Easter, make sure to take a moment with your family to thank Jesus for his amazing sacrifice. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Turn ... continue reading

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.