Not your typical Easter egg, I suppose. Certainly different than the brightly colored eggs of my youth.
Back then I never knew much about the origin of the egg in the Easter tradition. Never gave it much thought at all. But there is a story behind that iconic egg.
Like the rabbit which has come to symbolize Easter as well, the egg stems from the pagan Easter festival which celebrated both as symbols of fertility and the emerging new life of spring. The coloring of the eggs, done in earliest times by boiling the eggs with flowers petals, also symbolized the budding colors of spring.
For the Christians part, the egg also had a part in their tradition. There is a legend that states that Caesar summoned Mary Magdalene before him after the crucifixion of Jesus, and upon hearing her claims that Jesus had been resurrected is claimed to have said, pointing at a nearby basket of eggs,” Christ has not risen, no more than that egg is red.” At that point the eggs supposedly turned red. Many orthodox Christians traditionally color their eggs red to symbolize this story as well as the sacrificial blood of Christ.
There’s also a pragmatic part to the story of the Easter egg. The festival of Lent, the 40 days prior to Easter that symbolize Jesus’ 40 days spent fasting in the desert, had long had a prohibition on all meats and animal by-products including milk and eggs. This created quite a surplus of eggs which would have went to waste in those days long before modern refrigeration without their preservation by boiling.
Now, where the topless lady in this Victorian era image falls into the story, I have not a clue.