Like many of you I’m sure, one of my favorite childhood memories is of my mother gathering all six of her children to sit around the kitchen table which was lined with several blue plastic cups, spoons, vinegar and food coloring. It was Easter egg coloring time! We all loved it especially knowing that chocolate bunnies, warmer weather and the last day of school was not too far away.
To add some Easter egg history, with the rise of Christianity in Western Europe, the church adapted many pagan customs and the egg became a symbol of rebirth. The earliest Easter eggs were hen or duck eggs decorated at home in bright colors with vegetable dye and charcoal. Orthodox Christians and many other cultures continued to dye Easter eggs; the 17th and 18th centuries brought the manufacturing of egg-shaped toys, which were given to children at Easter. The ultimate egg-shaped Easter gifts must have been the fabulous jeweled creations of Carl Fabergé made during the 19th century for the Russian Czar and Czarina, now precious museum pieces.
My mother’s heritage was Czechoslovakian, where the tradition of hand painting eggs is strong and vibrant. The materials used are simple and natural; beeswax, clay, wood, twigs, straw and linen. I remember going to my Grandmother’s house and seeing a basket of eggs on the screened porch, colored with onionskins waiting to be adorned. As her children got older my Mother wanted to pass on the knowledge of how to make these miniature works of art or Kraslice, the Czech word for Easter egg. They are beautiful and intricate; the attention to detail is painstaking. No stickers or gold Sharpies are anywhere to be found!
My attempts to copy my mother’s graceful skill was challenging back then, but in honor of her and her determination to always look for a way to find creativity during her very busy life of raising so many children, I’m going to try again this year with my own daughter.
Here are a few links to some of these lovely symbols of new life.
Contributed by Kim Hanna.