The egg was deemed to be a pre-Christian symbol of the rebirth of the earth in spring. This was then adopted by Christians to symbolise Jesus. Early societies therefore started the custom of giving each other eggs as a sign celebrating the new year and the ending of winter.
As early as 7,000 years ago gifts of decorated eggs were made in Asia and India. In Europe the pre-Christian Saxons worshiped the goddess Eostre who it is thought was associated with springs and those symbols associated with the season such as hares and eggs. Her feast day is thought to be on the spring equinox of 21st March. Thus the adoption of the Germanic word Eostre became Easter and the association of eggs to Easter Christian celebrations. Other sources attribute Easter to the Wiccan goddess Ostara who was celebrated through March.
By whichever route Easter and eggs became associated the early painted eggs became part of many egg traditions. The tradition of hiding eggs (attributed to the Easter bunny) for children to find is observed in many countries in Europe and in North America. Decorated hens eggs, plastic eggs or chocolate eggs can be used. But the egg hunt is not the only game played: egg tapping (hard boiled eggs are tapped against an opponents to break them), egg rolling (rolling hard boiled eggs down a hillside) and egg dancing (contestants dance amongst eggs laid on the ground trying to damage as few as possible) are but a few.
A less energetic use of eggs at Easter is the display of them in an egg basket. The basket may be filled with real or artificial straw to give the impression of a birds nest. Again the roots of this are ancient alluding to the coming of spring, warmer weather and rebirth in nature.
You can download a free pattern to make the 1:12th scale crochet Easter Egg basket shown at the top of this page here.