The sight of basket-toting bunnies and colourful chocolate eggs communicates Easter’s advent. But just as the Christian celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, on the Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox, is believed to have evolved from the English pagan spring celebration of the goddess Ēostre , so the language of decorated eggs is extensive and culturally diverse. Egg-decorating is one of the oldest decorative arts. Decorated ostrich eggs found in South Africa date from 65,000 to 55,000 years ago; they were likely used as water containers, the designs indicating ownership. Pre-dating Christianity, ancient Zoroastrians painted eggs for Nowruz , “new day” in Persian, marking the vernal equinox. Persian New Year still observes this custom, with decorated eggs, representing fertility, laid out with the haft-seen (the “7 S” foods) and other symbolic items. Dyeing eggs red is widely found across cultures, though with different meanings. In the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, the red of Easter or Paschal eggs – Paschal from the Latin Pascha , from the Greek Pascha , transliterated from Aramaic, cognate to the Hebrew Pesach , “Passover” – represents the blood of Christ, the custom believed to have originated among the early Christians of Mesopotamia. The shell represents the sealed tomb of Christ, the cracking of which – custom involves knocking two red eggs against each other – symbolises his resurrection. Meanwhile, in Chinese culture, red is auspicious, representing good luck, vitality and happiness, and red eggs figure at important birthdays, such as a baby’s first month or first year, to symbolise joy and new life. In the north of England and Scotland, eggs are traditionally wrapped in onion skins and boiled so their shells resemble mottled gold. (Also used elsewhere are other vegetables, or leaves and flowers to leave a pattern.) Known as pace eggs (or pasch or paste eggs), the name is a dialectal form of Pasch , with loss of the final “k”. More intricate patterning on eggshells can be found in many Central and Eastern European cultures, using a wax-resist method. Examples include Ukrainian pysanka and Polish pisanka , whose names derive from pysaty and pisać , respectively, meaning “to write, inscribe, paint”. Originating in pre-Christian times, traditional designs imbued pysanky with talismanic powers, affording the home protection, the pagan motifs later reinterpreted with Christian meaning. Perhaps the most opulent eggshell decorations were the bejewelled Fabergé Imperial eggs, made for Russian tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II as Easter gifts for their wives and mothers. While ostentatious, their value also lies in how each design conveyed a bespoke, significant meaning.