A Page in Time
Strange Egg Facts
Eggs have been known to man for centuries and are mentioned a few places in the Bible e.g. Isaiah 10:14 – “And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of people; and as one gathereth eggs that are forsaken, have I gathered all the earth”.
No one knows when the fowl was domesticated, but we do know that in Egypt and China its history goes back to 1400 B.C. and in India to 3200 B.C. History reveals that eggs were a food delicacy with science, sports and superstition and exalts them as a symbol of pagan and Christian custom.
Ancients revered eggs as a sacred symbol and believed eggs represented the world and its elements: Shell (earth); white (water); yolk (fire) and air (under the shell). The Egyptians hung eggs in early times in their temples of worship. Artists glorified them in and sculpture, as encircled in the folds of the good Agathodaemon, a Greek deity of good fortune in the form of a shepherd. The Druids had the serpent’s egg which was an omen of power and success. This particular egg was the distinguishing badge of that ancient order of Gaulish and British priests.
Our modern custom of decorating and giving eggs at Easter was already long established in China in 722 B.C. Functionaries in the State of King TS-00 were sent out to towns and countrysides to proclaim that all fires must be put out and must remain out for three days of the great Spring Festival. One provident chieftain accumulated supplies of painted eggs and set the fashion of dispensing them as gifts to friends and acquaintances.
Persian history reveals that Jemsheed, the mythical monarch, sixth in descent from Moses, marked the beginning of the Religious Year each spring with a Nowroose, of Feast. Travellers gave eggs dyed in various colours or painted with gilt as gifts to everyone they encountered, friend and stranger alike.
In ancient Roman time superstition played its part too. An oracle advised Livia, wife of Roman Emperor Augustus to carry an egg in the warmth of her corsage. The sex of her unborn child would be indicated by whether a male or female chick was hatched in this cosy nest. A young cock was hatched and Livia soon cave birth to Tiberius. This happening led to the start of an absurb and certainly uncomfortable custom among the young matrons.
Many authorities believe chickens – and thus eggs – reached the Western Hemisphere with the second voyage of Columbus.¡