A hunt through the seven references to egg, or eggs, in the Bible turns up not a single verse that even hints at a symbolic connection to Jesus' death and resurrection. But a search through your Easter memories likely yields baskets of eggs.
The connection remains a mystery, although it's been traced in the West to 1290 when court records show that Edward I, King of England, distributed 450 eggs--some covered with gold--to the royal household at Easter. The faithful, in some European countries, would bring eggs to the church for a blessing the day before Easter.
One legend from the East goes all the way back to Mary Magdalene--the wealthy woman from whom Jesus expelled seven demons. The last we glimpse her in the Bible is on the first Easter when she encounters the Risen Christ at the empty tomb and goes to tell the disciples, "I have seen the Lord" (John 20:18).
But the Orthodox tradition tells us that after the Ascension she went to Rome, to Caesar's court, where she protested Pilate's poor administration of justice at Jesus' trial and then announced that Jesus had risen from the dead. She picked up an egg from the table, an instinctive move to explain the Resurrection with new life breaking out. Caesar scoffed, claiming a man could no more rise from the dead than that egg turn red.
The egg did!
That's why Orthodox Christians dye their eggs red. And why an Easter greeting between believers calls for each to have a red egg in hand.
"Christ is risen!" says the first, knocking egg against egg.
"He is risen, indeed!" answers the other.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers