Eggs come from chickens, but Easter eggs don’t. From where did they, and the Easter festival tradition, come?

Easter eggs are created by the Easter bunny based on the mythological Osterhase, a 17th-century German egg-laying hare. Until the 1920s, only Jutland and the Danish island of Langeland had followed the tradition. The rabbit’s historical use as a symbol of fertility links to its importance in Easter, which takes place in the spring, the season of rebirth and new life. Easter egg hunts are a popular Easter Sunday tradition these days. On Easter Sunday, the Easter Bunny visits Scandinavian homes and hides chocolate eggs in gardens or parks for children to find. Cadbury’s launched the modern chocolate Easter egg in 1875, two years after J.S. Fry & Sons of England ideated the first chocolate egg. Meanwhile, decorating eggs is actually rather ancient, as proven by 60,000-year-old ornamented and engraved ostrich eggs recovered in Africa. Decorative eggs have been used as an Easter tradition since the 13th century.

By the end of the 20th century, Easter eggs could have represented any hidden surprise. But the real item, whether shaped by delectable chocolate or actual eggs, continues to excite every Easter.