They may be sinfully creamy or so spicy it should be forbidden, but deviled eggs of all sorts will show up unabashedly for Easter celebrations.
A symbol of rebirth and new life, the egg has long been associated with Resurrection Sunday. Historically, the church restricted the eating of eggs during Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday. Eggs laid during this time were set aside and sometimes dyed or decorated. The festive eggs were then presented as treats on Easter morning – an indulgence after abstinence.
Farmhouse chickens observed the holiday enthusiastically. Extended hours of sunshine in the spring increased mating and egg production. Roosters must mate with a hen two or three times a week for the hen to lay a fertile egg. If the eggs aren’t collected, a broody hen can collect a full clutch in her nest, or an average of a dozen eggs. New life and rebirth – it is the season.
Instead of too many baby chicks, neighbors shared their abundance. Logically, to avoid waste after dyeing and decorating, the eggs became deviled and began to dominate potlucks and Easter celebrations. A frugal and delicious offering that was easy to make in advance, deviled eggs were easy to transport and arrived as the perfect pick up and eat treat for egg hunts and Easter picnics. For adults, it may well be the way they can still participate in the thrill of the hunt, filling themselves with Cool Hand Luke-worthy consumption.
The Easter meal may not actually be eaten on the good china on the decorated tablescape, but the special deviled egg tray will be kept full and on display. Easter meals often don’t center around a hot stove or keep the cooks in the kitchen. They travel to old homesteads and spread out in yards. If the deviled egg isn’t eaten while making your plate, it still poses no danger to even the flimsiest of paper ones.
The deviled egg can be offered as an appetizer and left out a little longer to welcome extended family, late arrivals, neighbors, and even the church friends who only show up on Easter. It is, after all, the season for fresh starts.
The eggs aren’t really deviled in Mississippi on Easter either, they are stuffed with gratitude for our abundant blessings and relished in good company.