Easter eggs, also called Paschal eggs, and Egg of Easter are eggs that are sometimes decorated. They are usually used as gifts on the occasion of Easter. As such, Easter eggs are common during the season of Eastertide (Easter season). The oldest tradition is to use dyed and painted chicken eggs, but a modern custom is to substitute chocolate eggs wrapped in coloured foil, hand-carved wooden eggs, or plastic eggs filled with confectionery such as chocolate. However, real eggs continue to be used in Central and Eastern European tradition. Although eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility and rebirth, in Christianity, for the celebration of Eastertide, Easter eggs symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus, from which Jesus was resurrected. In addition, one ancient tradition was the staining of Easter eggs with the colour red 'in memory of the blood of Christ, shed as at that time of his crucifixion. 'This custom of the Easter egg, according to many sources, can be traced to early Christians of Mesopotamia, and from there it spread into Eastern Europe and Siberia through the Orthodox Churches, and later into Europe through the Catholic and Protestant Churches. Other sources maintain that the custom arose in western Europe during the Middle Ages as a result of the fact that Western Christians were prohibited from eating eggs during Lent, but were allowed to eat them when Easter arrived. The practice of decorating eggshells is quite ancient, with decorated, engraved ostrich eggs found in Africa which are 60, 000 years old. In the pre-dynastic period of Egypt and the early cultures of Mesopotamia and Crete, eggs were associated with death and rebirth, as well as with kingship, with decorated ostrich eggs, and representations of ostrich eggs in gold and silver, were commonly placed in graves of the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians as early as 5, 000 years ago.
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