Passover and Easter are both holidays that involve eggs. The first records of actually eating Passover eggs, and giving eggs as presents on Easter, were both in medieval Germany.
Every Passover, Jews place a hard-boiled egg on the Passover ceremonial plate and the celebrants also eat hard-boiled eggs dipped in salt water as part of the ceremony.
The Christian egg-related custom is different: ahead of Easter, the yolk and white are extracted and the emptied shells are decorated. But might these egg-related customs have a common source?
The earliest reference to actually eating eggs at the Seder is in commentary written by Rabbi Moses Isserles (1520-1572) on the code of Jewish law called “Shulkhan Arukh”. The earliest written reference to the giving of Easter eggs seems to be in German (Ostereier) and was written in 1407.
Neither Judaism nor Christianity invented the eggs tradition for spring rituals. The custom seems likely to have originated in Mesopotamia, from the tradition of decorating eggs and placing them on the table on Nowruz, which is the Zoroastrian equinox celebration. The earliest known decorated eggs are even earlier than that, and goes as far back as 60,000 years, and were found in Africa.
In many cultures, eggs symbolize new life. In Ancient Egypt, an egg was revered as the origin of the world. In other words, the ancient Egyptians had a clear answer to the “Chicken and the Egg” dilemma: The egg came first.
In my book “Lay an Egg and Make Chicken Soup” I outline metaphorically all the practical details required to grow the egg into a chicken, and furthermore, into a chicken soup. The book is actually a business book that covers all the moving parts and potential blind spots in commercializing innovative products or services.
The successful endpoint of an egg doesn’t have to be as a chicken soup in our stomach. As my book describes, the same seed technology could create multiple products. For example, the same miniature camera technology that was originated for defense and spy purposes is now used on every mobile phone, archeology, as well as many medical applications.
Growing from an egg to a chicken is not the only way to enhance the value of the egg. Peter Carl Fabergé, 1846 – 1920, enriched the value of the egg by taking its décor to a new artistic level. There are only 47 known Fabergé eggs left, with the most expensive one is estimated to worth more than € 12M. This is a major upgrade to the value of the original egg.
One other way to add value to an egg (without growing it into a chicken) is by injecting an un-tangible emotional element into the equation. An emotional product is one that provides an emotional satisfaction to the buyer of the item or to the receiver of the present in case it was purchased for gifting purposes. A classic example is a piece of jewelry you buy to a loved one. Jewelry doesn’t have a functional purpose. It only makes people feel good about themselves; attract the opposite sex, or an expression of affection when it is given as a gift to a dear person. You can augment the value of a functional product by adding an emotional angle to it. In the case of eggs, its value can be enhanced tremendously by playing on people’s emotional response to animal welfare. Eggs coming from cage-free hens cost only 30% – 50% more to make, however, people pay 2X – 3X premium for cage-free eggs. They do so because they feel sorry for the caged chickens. (There is also a perception that cage-free eggs are healthier, but that is totally unproven yet). In 2012 more than half of the eggs sold in the UK were from cage-free hens, up from 12% in 1995.
With this emotional end to my spring holidays story, I wish everyone Cheerful Easter, Happy Passover, Enchanted Nowruz.
Arie Brish is a business leader and Best Seller author. He has led a wide variety of successful terms in different industries and business functions. His business acumen includes CEO & GM roles, Board of Directors services, M&A, business development, turnarounds, and change leadership, working with Fortune 500 corporations, entrepreneurial leadership, consulting engagements, and non-profit activities.