A Page in Time

April 1971

The Poultry Bulletin - - CONTENTS -

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.¡

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