Not many people hide real eggs for Easter anymore. Plastic has largely replaced the traditional colored and carefully hidden boiled embryos.
Plastic eggs filled with candy and trinkets are less messy than the original versions eggs boiled to the consistency of a radial tire and colored with permanent, dog-staining, carpet-ruining dye.
But a real egg is an important part of the traditional Easter worship of the Resurrection. For centuries, Christians lugged around chicken eggs on Easter because of the deep religious symbolism.
According to the font of all modern theological wisdom Wikipedia a chicken egg is "seen by followers of Christianity as a symbol of resurrection: While being dormant it contains a new life sealed within it."
There's probably religious symbolism as well in the transition from an actual life-containing egg to a cheap, plastic shell manufactured in godless China and loaded with teeth-rotting jelly beans. Don't ask me what it is, though.
In truth, celebrating Easter is more often defined by family rather than religious tradition. Typically, Easter traditions are performed in the manner taught by your parents.
My family colored real eggs. We did it the old-fashioned way, in a setting so close that it sometimes involved headlocks.
We used the basic five-color Paas egg-coloring kit. Invented in 1880 by New Jersey druggist William Townley, the kit contained five dye tablets, a wire dunking hoop and a set of instructions.
We did not use the later Paas kits, those featuring stencils, egg tattoos, pasteboard displays, cut-out collars, and even a magic crayon. We were Easter egg fundamentalists.
Saturday afternoon, Mom mixed the colors in cups. Then she added vinegar. For years, I believed this was to make the dye solution more difficult to convince a sibling to drink. Turns out it was simply a color fixative.
I don't recall all original five Paas colors, but one of them was red. I remember this because a red dye tablet wrapped in bacon and fed to the family dog raises serious alarm when the dog is later observed nonchalantly hemorrhaging onto a fence post.
I think one of the other colors was blue. I vaguely recollect that it takes an hour and a wad of steel wool for a furious parent to change a younger sibling's ears from cobalt back to something approximating flesh tone.
Never mind that. The point is that we dyed our own eggs. And we kept it simple. If we wanted to write on our eggs, we used a piece of wax. These secret Easter messages remained hidden until the egg emerged from the dye.
Note to kids: Do not write "[deleted]" on an egg. If it comes out of the dye bath while you're still within arm's reach of a male parent, you're going to get an up-close look at the Resurrection.
Later that night, while we slept soundly in dye-stained pajamas, the Easter Bunny came and hid the eggs and candy all over the yard.
It was magical. We knew magic was involved because in the event of unseasonable weather, the Easter Bunny always got into our house without the old man shooting him.
Easter morning we hunted the eggs and chocolate rabbits the size of bison. Apart from eggs fast-pitched at the neighbors, we didn't waste any of it. The chocolate held out for most of a day, the boiled eggs for a week.
It was the perfect celebration. Any religious symbolism in a Kirby family Easter only came through the healing and forgiving power of Pepto-Bismol.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/notpatbagley.