What day do you give Easter eggs and where does the tradition come from?

Here's when you should be hosting your Easter egg hunt...

Portrait smiling girl with Easter egg candy in daffodil field - stock photo
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It can be tricky to work out which day to give Easter eggs to celebrate Easter, since the school holidays span several weeks and many supermarkets start stocking the shelves with chocolate treats from as early as January. 

Securing the perfect Easter egg can be a challenge too, as major supermarkets and retailers often run out of the best Easter eggs weeks before the Easter weekend rolls around. That's why knowing the key Easter dates and getting your eggs bought early is important - especially as some shops close on Easter Sunday and others may have altered opening hours on Good Friday). 

When it comes to the timing of giving Easter eggs, there are a number of different Easter food traditions that suggest various different days for enjoying chocolate Easter eggs. Ultimately, it depends on whether you like to stick to a religious tradition or family custom, or prefer to make your own rules. Whichever stance you take, here's a handy guide to when to distribute Easter eggs and why we do it in the first place. And if you're feeling adventurous this year, consider checking out our guide to the best Easter hampers on sale this year. 

What day do you give Easter eggs?

According to Christian tradition, Easter eggs should be distributed on Easter Sunday - often following a roast lamb Easter dinner or perhaps a tasty vegetarian alternative. This dates back to medieval times when eating eggs was forbidden during Lent, and Easter marked the end of the fasting period.

However, decoding when to give out Easter eggs all comes down to how you're celebrating the holiday. Some people take advantage of early Easter egg deals in January and enjoy their chocolate eggs throughout the runup to Easter weekend. Others choose to exchange Easter eggs any time between Maundy Thursday (the day before Good Friday), which falls on March 28 this year. 

It's common for people to give out Easter eggs throughout the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. In 2024, the Easter bank holiday weekend starts on Friday 29 March and ends on Monday 1 April.

Why do we give eggs at Easter?

There are lots of theories about when the tradition of giving eggs at Easter began. One of the most widely accepted ideas is that Easter Sunday marks the end of Lent, a 40-day period following Pancake Day, which is characterised by fasting and abstaining from certain foods, including eggs, in the Christian tradition. 

However, others say the tradition of gifting eggs at Easter stems from the fact that eggs symbolise new life, which ties in with both the resurrection of Jesus and the start of spring. When the tradition of gifting eggs began, people exchanged painted birds' eggs until chocolate became more prevalent in the 19th and 20th centuries.  France and Germany were among the first countries to adopt the tradition of exchanging chocolate eggs at Easter.

When can you eat Easter eggs?

People following tradition tend to wait until Easter Sunday to eat Easter eggs - but ultimately the timing is your decision. It can be difficult to wait until then, especially for children, considering the shops are full of Easter eggs as early as January.

Despite Easter being a religious occasion, Easter eggs are not inherently part of the religious significance of the celebration, so there's no official day for eating them. Most people opt to exchange Easter eggs over the Easter weekend (any time between Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday), since families often get together during this time. 

Looking for more Easter inspiration? Check out Why is Good Friday called Good Friday? or plan some bak holiday weekend fun with Easter games and activities: 26 fun ideas for toddlers and kids. And if you're thinking of sending someone a tasty Easter treat, have a read of our guide to the best Easter hampers from Thorntons, Cadbury, Hotel Chocolat and more.

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Grace Walsh
Features Writer

Grace Walsh is a health and wellbeing writer, working across the subjects of family, relationships, and LGBT topics, as well as sleep and mental health. A digital journalist with over six years  experience as a writer and editor for UK publications, Grace is currently Health Editor for womanandhome.com and has also worked with Cosmopolitan, Red, The i Paper, GoodtoKnow, and more. After graduating from the University of Warwick, she started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness.