I’m so excited about what I bought today! The egg-dying kit!
Dying Easter eggs is one of my favorite traditions. I love to get the kids together, roll up our sleeves, and make a big mess in the kitchen while we create all sorts of colorful designs. The room smells like vinegar and of course all of our fingers will be pink and purple and green for days.
My daughter spotted the egg-dying kit peeking out of my shopping bag and said, “Mommy, why do we always have an egg hunt?” And I looked at her and said, “You know… I have no idea.”
She had me stumped. I had no clue why every spring we buy more eggs than we normally consume in a month and boil them and dye them and hide them in the yard, where we inevitably fail to retrieve at least one, and a four-legged critter ends up finding it for us. What does any of this have to do with the celebration of Easter or Spring?
She had me curious, so I looked it up. (Feel free to chime in if you know a different explanation, but this is from Wikipedia, so I’m sure it’s absolutely 100 percent accurate.)
Turns out, the Easter egg has to do with the Christian tradition of Lent in Eastern Europe, when people would traditionally avoid eating meat or dairy. Eggs, evidently, fell into the “dairy” category because they are a product that can be taken from an animal without shedding its blood. Quite a scientific explanation, isn’t it? Anyway, at the end of Lent, people would have stockpiled all these eggs, which they boiled, so they would keep longer and not go to waste. When Easter came around it was time to use up the eggs as part of the holiday celebrations. It became a common practice to decorate the eggs and hide them for children to find.
The Easter egg tradition is especially prevalent in Eastern Europe, where they take egg-decorating very seriously. The famous jewelry firm, Faberge, of St. Petersburg, is known for its jewel-encrusted eggs. The original Faberge egg was created for Tsar Alexander III of Russia to give to his wife in 1885.
Aside from all the religious traditions associated with it, the simple egg has long been a symbol and spring and rebirth.
Around our house, we don’t focus on the symbolism so much as the fun that goes along with dying eggs. One of our favorite techniques is to dip some of the eggs in oil before dying them, which gives them a pretty watercolor effect. The kids also like to draw pictures in crayon, or sometimes even paint the eggs. My mother used to take egg decorating to the extreme, creating these beautiful pastel-colored sugar eggs, with elaborate dioramas inside them made of icing and silk flowers. They were amazing to look at, but I’ve never attempted them myself. The Martha Stewart gene must have skipped me.
What are your favorite holiday traditions this time of year?
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Have a great weekend!