The Easter Shell Game


What is Easter without the egg? The two are inseparable. The egg by its very nature  has been for ages the symbol of new life.  In pagan cosmology, heaven and earth hatched from an egg. So it was inevitable that Christian tradition adopted the egg as an emblem of the Resurrection of Christ.

By the 17th century this association was so familiar that Pope Paul V composed a prayer for the Easter egg. "Bless, O Lord, we beseech Thee, this Thy creature of eggs, that it may become a wholesome sustenance to They faithful servant, eating in thankfulness to Thee on account of the Resurrection of the Lord."

Pope Benedict XVI this Holy Week was gifted  with a 501 pound chocolate egg, which he generously bequeathed  to a local prison for minors.  An act of charity, I'm sure, that pleased  his medical staff.

Tradition also  reigns  in our kitchen. My wife and her mother dyed a few dozen eggs. All monochromatic.  In a variety of colors. A legend says we do this because of someone whom the Romans forced to  help Jesus carry his cross: Simon of Cyrene. The story goes that Simon was an egg merchant who had come to Jerusalem to sell his eggs for Passover. After the crucifixion, he went to fetch the basket of eggs he had left behind, only to find them brightly colored.

A few years ago I bought the Easter eggs pictured  above at Joe and Frank's  Meat Market in Oak Lawn.  Hand-crafted in Poland,  they're made of  wood with floral designs in enamel.   Feast your eyes.  Simon says.

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