There are a fair number of early modern books of sermons that mention Easter eggs during Eastertide.
One of the funnier ones is a guy who rewords Song of Songs.
There’s a bit in Songs 7:13 that says, “Within our gates are all the fruits. I have saved the old and the new for you, my beloved.”
In Hebrew and Latin back then, there was no punctuation, or very little. So a fair number of Scripture scholars (Bede, for example) quote this verse as “All the fruits, old and new, I have saved for you, my beloved.” (“Omnia poma nova et vetera servavi vobis, dilecte mi.”) This could be taken as referring to making fruit into preserves, so sometimes the preachers talked a little about home cooking at this point.
In one of the early modern sermon books, Father turns this into: “All the” [eggs,] “old and new, I have saved for you, my beloved,” and makes it the verse reference for his whole Eastertide sermon series! I’m pretty sure this is a joke; but the logic is this.
1. Back when everybody fasted from eggs during Lent, hardboiling eggs was a way to save the “old” eggs until they could be eaten. (And the eggs were often saved in containers of brine, oil, or butter, which kept them even longer.)
2. Back then, people in love gave their loved ones elaborate Easter eggs, much as we give Valentine presents today to our sweethearts. So it was a romance thing, and fit in well with the Song of Songs.
Another fun Easter egg in these early modern sermon books is linked to the risen Christ being mistaken for a gardener. Maybe Christ was carrying flowers, to represent all the Fathers and saints whom He had plucked out of Hell when He was harrowing it! (And so on.)
Later in the year, one gathered flowers in baskets. So in Europe in places where flowers aren’t up at Easter, a basket of colored eggs is supposed to be like a basket of flowers.
Flowers represent the Church’s various kinds of saints, in an ancient analogy that we see in St. Ambrose and other authors. The martyrs are like roses, the virgins are like lilies or violets, and the angels are also like lilies. So red eggs represent Christ’s wounds and blood and the blood of the martyrs, and thus the roses. Other colors of eggs must represent other kinds of saints.
Easter egg pattern books were also a thing. You could trace, “prick,” or copy an elaborate picture onto an egg, and then color it for your beloved or your family. Some books had explanatory didactic religious texts, like the one I linked elsewhere on this blog. (Didactic pictures of kids egging someone’s house really needed an explanation.)
I think this kind of stuff is fun. Unfortunately a lot of this Easter egg stuff is in German, and I don’t read German.
UPDATE: Hello, Instapundit readers! A cool chick seems to have given me an Instalanche. What a nest thing to do! After brooding over it, I have added a few things to this post to make it more readable and useful to a wider audience.
If you click on the “Easter eggs” tag, you will find several other posts on this topic from previous years.
I do not guarantee the usefulness of any links to Google Books, as public domain texts all have been grayed out for me since Christmas Day. I can’t even read them through other countries’ Google Books, except by direct links to pages.