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5 Theories on Why We Dye Eggs for Easter

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Every year, as Easter approaches, people across the globe hardboil eggs and dye them brilliant colors. Where did this tradition come from? There's no one answer to that question—in fact, there are many accounts as to how dying eggs became a part of the tradition surrounding the Christian holiday of Easter. Here are five of them. 

1. A Spring Celebration

Eggs were often associated with pagan festivals and celebrations of spring. Eggs were symbolic of rebirth and new life, making them an appropriate part of the celebration of spring and the new life that comes after winter. It was common for eggs to be decorated in conjunction with these spring festivals, and common to see these colored eggs given as gifts to friends and family. The symbolism of rebirth fit well with the spring holiday of Easter, as it is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. The practice of decorating eggs and giving them as gifts was adopted by Christians and included in their Easter celebrations.

2. A Mesopotamian Tradition

According to Volume 5 of Donahoe's Magazine, a monthly Catholic-oriented general interest magazine that ran from 1878 to 1908, early Christians in Mesopotamia dyed eggs red to mimic the blood that Christ shed during his crucifixion. The church purportedly took up this tradition and it has continued ever since. 

3. A Royal Tradition

King Edward I of England may also have contributed to the tradition of decorating eggs to celebrate Easter. In the 13th century, Edward I ordered 450 eggs to be colored and decorated with gold-leaf. They were presented as Easter gifts to the rest of the royal household.

4. Mary Magdalene and the Red Egg

In several legends, Mary Magdalene is a key player in the creation of the egg-dying tradition. One version involves Mary Magdalene’s trip to Jesus’ tomb three days after his crucifixion. She carried a basket of cooked eggs to share with the other women who would be mourning at the tomb. When she arrived to find the stone rolled away from the entrance and the tomb empty, the eggs in her basket turned a brilliant shade of red.

Another legend tells of Mary Magdalene going to speak to the Roman Emperor Tiberius after Jesus rose from the dead. She greeted the emperor by saying “Christ is risen.” Tiberius replied, “Christ has no more risen than that egg is red,” gesturing to an egg that was, depending on the version of the legend, on his table or held by Mary herself. As soon as the emperor said this—you guessed it—the egg turned red.

5. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the Red Egg

Some Eastern European legends credit not Mary Magdalene, but Jesus' mother Mary, as the source of the egg-dying tradition. Mary was present at her son’s crucifixion on Good Friday and, according to these legends, she brought eggs with her. In one version, blood from Jesus’ wounds drops on the eggs, coloring them red. Another version of the legend tells of Mary weeping, begging the soldiers at the cross to be less cruel to her son. She gives these soldiers eggs and, as her tears fall on them, they are spotted with brilliant color.

This post originally appeared in 2013.

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Game of Thrones Made a Fun Nod to Harry Potter In Its Season Premiere
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Warning: This article contains mild spoilers about the season seven premiere of Game of Thrones. It also spoils minor plot points of the Harry Potter films.

Harry Potter fans may have gotten a strange sense of déjà vu during last night’s Game of Thrones season opener. That’s because the HBO series’ creators appear to have dropped in a subtle reference to the Harry Potter film franchise—and the Internet, in a moment of truly esoteric nerd trivia, picked up on it immediately.

The Easter egg came when Samwell Tarly, eager to discover an obscure bit of history that could help Westeros fend off the advancing White Walkers, asks the archmaester Ebrose for access to the restricted section of the Citadel’s library.

Devoted fantasy fans will recall that in another world, at another time, a young Voldemort asked Professor Slughorn for permission to enter the restricted section of the library at Hogwarts. The connection? Jim Broadbent, the real-life muggle actor who played Slughorn in the final three movies of the Harry Potter franchise, made his Game of Thrones debut last night playing Ebrose.

It seems that no matter where Broadbent goes, no matter how far he travels across fantasy universes, he can’t escape eager pupils trying to meddle in parts of the library where they don’t belong.

[h/t: Independent]

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12 Ways to Use Leftover Eggshells
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After the Easter egg hunt is done, the ham has been served, and the ears have been bitten off the bunnies, you may find yourself making excessive amounts of egg salad and facing a giant pile of eggshells. But don't throw them out! Because the shells are an organic material packed with calcium and a perfectly abrasive texture, they have lots of benefits that you can tap into for plenty of helpful uses at home.

1. BOOST YOUR TOMATO PLANTS.

Easter means the summer growing season is not far off, and if you're industrious, you might already be growing some seedlings to get a jump on things. When you plant or pot your tomato plants, put some eggshells at the bottom of the hole or the pot. The shells are loaded with calcium and can help protect your tomatoes from calcium deficiency, which causes blossom-end rot.

2. MAKE YOUR OWN HOUSEHOLD CLEANER.

Eggshells are naturally abrasive but don’t contain the toxic chemicals you find in store-bought cleaners. Because of this, they make for a great multi-purpose householder cleaner. For this use, be sure to use eggshells from your deviled egg platter that have not been dyed (it’s OK to use those with stickers if you peel them off). Dry the eggshells completely and then pulverize them in a food processor. Mix them with baking soda in a 1:3 ratio (for example,1 tablespoon of eggshells to 3 tablespoons baking soda) and add water to moisten the mixture. This is a great way to scrub your stovetop, pots, counter, or water stains from your shower.

3. CLEAN YOUR DRAINS.

Dry and pulverize the shells and sprinkle a quarter teaspoon of the powder into the kitchen sink when you drain it after washing dishes. The abrasive egg powder will cling to the bits of food in your pipes and turn into little scrubbers as they move through the pipes. This will help reduce build-up throughout your plumbing.

4. MELLOW OUT YOUR COFFEE.

Make sure your eggshells are clean and do not contain any of the egg membrane (and only use plain shells or those decorated with natural food coloring). Put some of the eggshells in your coffee grounds when you add them to your coffee maker. Eggshells are mostly calcium, which is alkaline, and can absorb some of the acid in the coffee, giving it a mellower flavor. In fact, one test found that stirring some eggshells in a cup of over-brewed coffee also improved the taste.

5. USE INSTEAD OF A BOTTLE BRUSH.

If you have a vase with those annoying, impossible-to-reach water marks on the inside, drop some crushed eggshells into the vase with a little bit of warm water and a drop of dish soap. Swirl the mixture around, and the abrasive shells will scrub off the water marks and rinse right out.

6. HATCH SOME SEEDLINGS.

If you’re agile enough to keep roughly half of an eggshell intact, it makes the perfect container for starting seedlings. Place the shells in an empty egg container (or spruce things up with one of the pretty ceramic egg crates that are popular). Partially fill the shells with dirt and plant the seedlings. When it’s time to transplant them, you can just put the whole shell right into the ground since it is biodegradable and will add to the calcium in the soil (but give the shell a crack on the bottom before planting so the roots don't have any problems getting through).

7. GET RID OF GARDEN PESTS.

Diatomaceous earth is often used in gardens to control beetles, slugs, roaches, and other pests. This natural product is basically ground up fossils, which is an abrasive material that irritates, dries out, and eventually kills the bugs. Leftover eggshells can create the same effect. Pulverize them and sprinkle directly on the pests, their nests, or around the leaves or base of your plants to help control pest attacks.

8. SCARE AWAY STRAY CATS.

If stray or neighborhood cats are using your garden to relieve themselves (or are taunting your dogs by tiptoeing through your yard), spread some roughly crushed eggshells around the area the cats are frequenting. Cats don’t like the crunchy, sharp feel of the shells on their paws, and will learn to avoid that area.

9. REPLACE ANY MICROBEAD CLEANSERS.

Beauty products with microbeads can no longer be produced after July 2017, when a law signed by President Obama in late 2015 goes into effect. Microbeads are great for exfoliation, but it turns out the tiny bits of plastic are damaging to the environment, particularly to fish, who ingest them. Eggshells, however, are a great, environmentally friendly alternative. Use plain eggshells without coloring; dry and pulverize the shells, and mix with an egg white. This can be used as an exfoliating cleanser or as a face mask.

10. ADD TO YOUR BIRDSEED.

Wild birds at your feeder will benefit if you add lightly crushed eggshells to the bird seed. Be sure to use shells that are plain or have only been colored with natural food coloring and have been completely dried (baking the shells at 250°F for about 10 minutes will do the trick). Female birds, who may be calcium deficient after laying their own eggs, will get a boost from this addition to the food. You can also gently crumble the shells and spread them on the ground for the birds if you don’t have a feeder.

11. REMOVE STAINS.

If you’ve got mugs stained from coffee and tea, eggshells can help return them to their original color. Crush the shells and place them in the mug with a little water and let it sit overnight. The porous shells will absorb the stain and leave your mugs clean without any crazy scrubbing on your part.

12. MAKE AN INEXPENSIVE CALCIUM SUPPLEMENT.

Plain or naturally colored eggshells can save you money on your calcium supplements. Studies have found that ground eggshells make a good substitute for manufactured calcium supplements (and in some cases might even be better). One eggshell contains about two grams of calcium, which is twice the recommended daily intake for adults. Rather than having your omelette with a side of shell though, you can add finely ground eggshells to any variety of food that you cook, like pizza or pasta. You can also mix ground shells into your dog or cat's meal as a calcium supplement.

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