Our Favourite Easter Collectibles
Apart from Christmas, Easter is probably our favourite holiday. Although Easter is considered a Christian celebration, its pagan roots are also still alive and well. These pagan symbols can still be found in Easter traditions and decorations. For example the Easter bunny, delicious hot cross buns, and coloured eggs, are all strongly associated with the holiday.
In Christian practice this holiday tends to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Whereas secular cultures celebrate the spring equinox – when the sun shines directly on the equator it shows that the length of day and night is nearly equal. Many pagan cultures also hold festivals to rejoice the rebirth of nature and its fertility. An important celebration is in honour of Eostre, the goddess of dawn, who is closely linked to symbols of fertility. This story is represented by the the hare and the egg.
Since we have such a long history of Easter traditions, there are a lot of vintage collectibles out there too. In this article we’ll give you a brief history of our favourite Easter pieces.
The first mention of the Easter rabbit was found in German writings from the 1600s. The Germans acquired the pagan rabbit and turned it into Oschter Haws, a rabbit that was believed to lay a nest of coloured eggs to give to well behaved children. Oschter Haws spread to America in the 1700s through German settlers in the Pennsylvania Dutch area.
Easter rabbit collectibles come in many forms; from ornaments, cards and chalkware to tableware and a range of toys.
Decorating eggshells is an ancient tradition, 60,000 year old ostrich eggs with engraved decorations have been found in Africa. However, the custom of decorating eggs originated in Mesopotamia, where early Christians stained eggs in red to symbolise the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion. The egg itself represents Jesus’ emergence from the tomb. Most of us have probably decorated chicken eggs which we would roll down a hill. These are slowly being substituted by chocolate eggs filled with toys or candy.
When it comes to collecting eggs, there are two major groups of collectibles:
A pysanka is a Ukrainian Easter egg decorated with traditional folk designs using a wax-resist method called ‘batik’. The eggs are given to family members and respected outsiders as a symbolic gift of life, hence the egg must remain whole. There’s a lot of symbolism involved. For example the design and colour of the egg should match the person to whom the pysanka is given. Most pysanky are made out of wood or real chicken eggs, and you can find countless beautiful handmade eggs online.
A Fabergé egg is one of the jewelled eggs created by Peter Carl Fabergé from 1885 to 1917. The most famous eggs are the 50 ‘Imperial’ Fabergé eggs that were made for Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II as Easter gifts for their wives. Only 43 of the Imperial eggs have survived. Today the Fabergé trademark is owned by Fabergé limited, which makes egg-themed jewellery. As you probably know, collecting these eggs is not cheap – even the reproductions require deep pockets.
It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that sending Easter postcards to friends and relatives became a tradition. The cards were both monochrome and coloured in the beginning, and often featured an oversized egg in the middle. The postcards changed over the years. In circa 1910 the cards were mainly monochrome photos of young children, lambs, bunnies and eggs, and during the First World War children were replaced with soldiers and Easter bunnies with a military appearance. After the war is rise of colour photography inspired colourfully drawn Easter motives, such as flowers, bunnies and sheep.
Since Easter cards weren’t printed in as great a quantity as Christmas postcards, they are rarer and more collectible. There are many beautiful vintage Easter cards to be found online on sites like eBay.
We hope you have a happy Easter!