European Egg Decorations

egg decorations

Photo courtesy of Barbora Kuzelova

Egg decorations and coloring have been a significant part of the European Easter celebrations since as early as the 13th century. Some historical records credit the Macedonians for being the first Christians to use eggs in connection with Easter; their children selling dyed eggs in the public markets.

Some of the most elaborate Easter egg decorations originate in the Slavic region of Europe, which includes countries like the Czech and Slovak Republic, Poland, Ukraine and other Central European countries.

Decorated Easter eggs come in two forms:

1.  hard-boiled eggs that may be later eaten, are often dyed with single color. Originally, eggs were colored using natural dyes that could be obtained from various vegetables and plants, such as yellow and red onion peels, red beets, spinach leaves and others. Nowadays, children often decorate them with Easter stickers or paint them with white paint over the single color base. Since they are hard-boiled, they are easier to handle while decorating, especially for children. The Ukrainians called these krashanky from the word meaning color.

2. gift and decorative eggs: these eggs are first carefully emptied from its shell and contents used for other cooking purposes. The most common method for emptying the shell is making a small hole on each end of the egg, and blowing the contents through one end into a bowl. Shells are then rinsed and cleaned, and carefully decorated using various elaborate techniques. Decorative motives are often drawn on the colored egg with a special stylus dipped in melted beeswax. Beeswax is preferred for its high melting point that provides better coverage, and has a greater resistance to dyes, but other types of wax and even crayons can be used as well. This process is similar to the batik decoration technique of fabrics. Eggs can be also first dipped in beeswax and then dyed in color; the design motives are later obtained by scraping into the wax layer. Each region has its own decorative symbols, techniques and dye formulas for Easter eggs, which have been carefully preserved and passed along from one generation to the next. For example, one of the most popular Czech symbols is the eight-pointed star. The main purpose of these elaborately decorated eggs is either use as Easter decorations around the house or being given as gifts. They can last for years if properly handled and stored. In the Czech and Slovak Republic they are called kraslice; in Ukraine they call them pysanky.

colored eggs, easter eggs

Egg decoration tools and supplies; photo courtesy of Barbora Kuzelova

For more Easter decorating tips and ideas, see our articles Green Easter Crafts and Green Easter Decorations And Healthy Treats

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Author:Katka Konecna-Rivera

Katka Konecna-Rivera, co-founder and host of Living Green with Baby, is an architect focused on sustainable design as well as a filmmaker, writer and personal wellness coach.

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