My series on the “Journey to Easter…Symbols and Traditions” continues.
The egg has long been a symbol of new life, and all around the world Christians eat eggs at Easter. Some refrain from eating eggs during Lent so it is also a breaking of a fast to eat an egg at Easter. Eggs were used as currency in medieval times and tradition of paying a tithe of eggs at Easter existed in several European countries and in England. Giving a decorated egg at Easter to suitors or to express fondness is a long tradition as well.
Pysanky and Decorated Eggs
Before the advent of modern food dyes, people colored Easter eggs with a variety of naturally occuring substances including onion skins (yields a golden deep orange or reddish brown color), Brazil wood (bright red),or Coachineal (scale insects).Many central and Eastern European countries etch elaborate designs on their easter eggs. Some use a scratch technique where the eggs are first dyed, then the artist scrapes away a thin layer of eggshell to create the design. Others use an applique method which attaches various decorations to the egg, such as sea shells,strips of dough,metal coils, or paper cuts. Another technique was a batik method which places wax on the egg to protect the areas which will not be dyed and then dying the egg. Ukranian and Polish artists create astonishingly complex designs with various colors using this technique. These eggs are known as pysanky. These eggs are collected as stunning examples of folk art.
In Germany and Austria, eggs are dyed green on Maundy Thursday to match the green foods that are traditionally eaten on this day. Many Europeans favor red dyed eggs. This color is associated with magic,love,blessing and renewal, all themes that blend well with Easter. Orthodox Christians prefer red eggs as symbols of the blood of Christ, and red dyed eggs are also baked into braided Easter breads.