20 April 2017, The Tablet

Chocolate is ‘innocent’ in the eyes of the Church. Its consumption breaks no fast


Symbols seem to work in an odd way. There is little obvious reason why roses should represent love or lilies purity, and eggs for Easter have long baffled folklorists and semiologists. Does the empty shell represent the empty cave-tomb? Does the shape re-call the stone rolled away from the grave mouth?

Or do the eggs symbolise new life, bursting out of the apparently dead shell – in which case dying them fancy colours, boiling and eating them seems a little macabre? Are they a Christian appropriation of some more ancient pagan ritual? Are they simply what is available after the long Lenten fast – the hens start laying again at about the right time, while the lambs are too small to eat, the cows hopefully in calf and no fresh fruit anywhere near ripe? We do not know.

And if eggs are a curious symbol for Easter, they are not at first sight anything like as peculiar as their contemporary equivalent: chocolate. Note though that I say “at first sight” because on closer inspection the total appropriateness of chocolate for celebrating Easter joy makes it almost a proof of God’s providential love (and very possibly of the divine sense of humour as well).

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