A Page in Time
S.A.P.A Poultry Bulletin
From the egg control board
Besides being an extremely valuable food, eggs have long appeared in various customs, traditions and in idiom throughout the world.
“Ihave eggs on the spit”, meaning I am very busy, originated from an old custom of boiling eggs, removing yolks and spicing them and then putting them together and roasting on a spit – all of which took time and attention.
“Egg-wife’s trot”, meaning a very cautious pace like a house-wife carrying eggs to market in her panniered skirt.
Customs, Traditions and Myths
The Phoenicians, Egyptians, Hindus, Japanese and many ancient nations maintained that the earth was egg-shaped and was hatched from an egg made by the Creator.
“The mundane egg”, in some mythologies a bird is represented as laying the mundane egg on the primordial waters. This ancient idea is attributed to Orpheus. Many people after eating boiled eggs crush the shell – according to Sir Thomas Browne “this is a superstition and the intent thereof was to prevent witchcraft in case witches drew or pricked their names on the shell, the breaking of the shell destroyed this”.
The Etruscans believed that
egg shells were witches goblets used for drinking. To prevent witches from using them, one should after eating an egg break the shell into fragments and throw it into a running stream and say: “If thou art a witch Go, O devil’s daughter! And be borne away On running water! Many sailors would never refer to eggs by name at sea, the term roundabout was used instead.
In 1673 it was often thought that witches used egg shells to travel in, another good reason to break the shell in fragments.
In the north of England an egg is often presented to a new born baby as a symbol that he should never want.
In Northumberland on St. Agnes’ Eve a girl would eat an egg which had been hardboiled, the egg removed and the shell filled with salt. The girl had to eat this, shell and all, and go to bed backwards saying:
“Sweet Agnes word they fast If ever I be marry man, Or ever man to marry me, I hope him this night to see”.
A Lincolnshire folk cure for bed-wetting is to give the child egg shell ground up in milk or water.
Egg and Easter
Eggs are symbols of resurrection and continued life. Coloured eggs were exchanged in antiquity at the Spring Festival by Greeks, Romans, Persians and Chinese. As we today use Easter Eggs.
In some parts of Europe scarlet dyed eggs are planted in the fields and vineyards to protect the crops from thunder and lightning.
Egg Feast on Egg Saturday
In Oxford the Saturday preceding Shrove Tuesday used to be so called because, as the eating of eggs was forbidden during Lent, the scholars took leave of them on that day. They were allowed to be eaten again at Easter, hence the coloured Easter eggs.
In Preston on Easter Monday afternoon the children roll hardboiled eggs down the slopes of the Park and race to the River. This is linked with the old “New life” customs of Spring and Easter.
Easter Eggs are symbolic creation or the recreation of Spring. The practice of presenting them at Easter came to England in the 19th Century from Germany.
Eggs and Poultry
An old poultry superstition was that if one burnt an egg shell, all the birds would cease laying. An old English superstition was that if eggs are set under a hen at the new moon, they will not go bad. In Scotland it was believed that if a poultry farmer desired cockerels, eggs would be set at the flood of the tide, if hens, at the ebb. In Wales, spring flowers must never be brought inside or the hens will not hatch their eggs. In Sussex, if a single primrose is brought indoors, it will make the hen hatch only one egg out of a clutch.
In parts of England, it is said to be unlucky to bring eggs into the house or take them out after sunset. They must never be sold after sunset or taken aboard ship. The last egg laid by an old hen is often kept on some farms as a charm to protect the poultry. An egg laid on Good Friday serves the same purpose. In the not too remote past, it was customary for the rustic housewife in England on placing eggs in a nest for incubation, to swing a lighted candle over them as a magic charm to prevent hawks, crows and other birds of prey from carrying away the chicks.
In the old days dreams of hens, chickens and eggs had some peculiar symbolisms: - To dream of hens and chickens was regarded as a warning of coming danger.
To dream of selling eggs for gold indicated good fortune, but to dream of selling them for silver indicated indifferent success in business, love or war.
To dream of buying eggs was said to indicate the gathering of great riches.
Did you know that eggs often appear as an important part of an entire menu? They are used in breads, muffins, puddings and soups
Use left-over egg yolks for mayonnaise or salad dressing. Beat left over egg yolks into hot mashed potatoes for extra nourishment. Beat left over egg yolks in a glass of milk or orange juice, add a little sugar and serve. Use leftover stiffly beaten egg whites for a facial. This has long been recognized in Europe as an excellent facial toner. Use leftover egg whites in puddings and for meringues.