Traditions: The Dyeing of the Eggs

The purple crocuses have been peeking their bright petals out of the thawing earth. There’s still snow on half my lawn, but the sun has finally stopped hitting snooze on its alarm button. Spring might just finally be here, on the coattails of Easter.

I’ve gone on about how I love traditions and rituals. I love seeing how people mark the passing of time with holidays, events, and ceremonies that are special to them.

I’ve been lucky enough to experience and learn about other rituals, like Chinese New Year, a Passover Cedar, and hey, the summer solstice in Iceland is certainly on my bucket list. But this week, it’s about sharing one of the traditions I’ve grown up with: dyeing eggs.

Dyeing eggs in tea cups, because we are classy

Dyeing eggs in tea cups, because we are classy

Fun anecdote. I got my friends and myself kicked out of a particularly religious Spanish teacher’s classroom after-school in high school once. Why? We were playing video games in her room, and I was blathering on about the origin of Easter Eggs, when she came out of her backroom and thumped a bible on the desk in front of me.

“Find where it says that in the Bible!”

Quizzically, and taken aback, (for this was public school, after all, and speaking of religious matters was verboten) I asked her if she had heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls and whether she believed they were canon.

She said yes. And then I quipped, “Well, those aren’t in the bible”, and after being at a loss for words, she promptly kicked us out of her room.

Ah, religion, y’all.

Anyway. Where do Easter Eggs originate? Like all religions and cultures, they were appropriated from somewhere else first. (We get the name Easter from the pagans). According to Wikipedia, decorated, engraved ostrich eggs have been found in Africa and are an amazing 60,000 years old! And decorated eggs have been found in the graves of ancient Egyptians as well.

It gained its Christian aspect when Mesopotamians dyed the eggs red (a practice still done in Eastern Christian churches) to symbolize the blood of Christ. Cracking the egg is supposed to be like cracking open Jesus’s tomb for his resurrection.

It’s so fantastically morbid, I love it.

Of course, eggs have meaning all of their own. They connote new life, and a multitude of other faiths and cultures, from Iran to the ancient Zoroastrians to the Pagans, use painted eggs at their springtime holiday. The earth is cracking open from its frozen shell of winter. A new start begins.

My mother used to hollow out the eggs, and decorate the shells with little drops of fabric paint, turning them into shimmering, textured, fragile spheres. They seemed like eggs for tiny dragons maybe, or fairies.

eggcollage

I like trying to do very simple designs. I made Pabu and Aang from the Avatar-verse. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where my craftiness both begins and ends. I don’t need to dye them all to symbolize blood, you know. I appreciate them for their burst of colors, their promise that spring is on its way, just still playing hide-and-go-seek with us.

This year, my friends and I have around 50 eggs to dye. It’s going to be messy and wonderful, and we’re doing a photoshoot with bunnies and the finished eggs. Hmm.. Easter bunnies. There’s another tradition, but this one I’m going to leave a mystery for today.

Love always,
Gabriele

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