Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to
the table on Easter Day, coloured red to symbolize the Easter joy. This custom is found
not only in the Latin but also in the Oriental Churches. The symbolic meaning of a new
creation of mankind by Jesus risen from the dead was probably an invention of later times.
The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating
the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life
of early spring.
The Decorated Easter Egg
The egg is nature’s perfect package. It has, during the span of
history, represented mystery, magic, medicine, food and omen. It is the universal symbol
of Easter celebrations throughout the world and has been dyed, painted, adorned and
embellished in the celebration of its special symbolism.
Before the egg became closely entwined with the Christian Easter, it
was honored during many rite-of-Spring festivals. The Romans, Gauls, Chinese, Egyptians
and Persians all cherished the egg as a symbol of the universe. From ancient times eggs
were dyed, exchanged and shown reverence.
In Pagan times the egg represented the rebirth of the earth. The long,
hard winter was over; the earth burst forth and was reborn just as the egg miraculously
burst forth with life. The egg, therefore, was believed to have special powers. It was
buried under the foundations of buildings to ward off evil; pregnant young Roman women
carried an egg on their persons to foretell the sex of their unborn children; French
brides stepped upon an egg before crossing the threshold of their new homes.
With the advent of Chrisianity the symbolism of the egg changed to
represent, not nature’s rebirth, but the rebirth of man. Christians embraced the egg
symbol and likened it to the tomb from which Christ rose.
Decorating and coloring eggs for Easter was the custom in England
during the middle ages. The household accounts of Edward I, for the year 1290, recorded an
expenditure of eighteen pence for four hundred and fifty eggs to be gold-leafed and
colored for Easter gifts.
Where did the custom of coloring Easter eggs come from? No one knows
for sure. In any case, the Easter holiday centers around eggs for young children. Here are
some projects you might like to try.
To hard cook eggs: Place eggs in a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover at least 1
inch above the eggs. Heat rapidly to boiling and remove from heat. Cover the pan and allow
to stand for 22 to 24 minutes. Immediately cool the eggs in cold water.
Make a vegetable dye solution by adding a teaspoon of vinegar to 1 /2
cup of boiling water. Drop in food coloring and stir. The longer the egg is kept in the
dye, the deeper the color will be.
Add a teaspoonful of salad oil to a dye mixture and mix in the oil
well. This results in a dye that produces swirls of color. Immerse the egg in the dye for
a few minutes.
Draw a design on an egg with a waxcrayon before dying it. The dye
will not take to the areas with the crayon marks and the design will show through.
Wrap rubber bands, string, yarn, or narrow strips of masking tape
around an egg to create stripes and other designs. Dip the egg in a dye and allow to dry
before removing the wrapping.
Drip the wax of a lighted birthday candle over an egg or draw a
design on the egg using a piece of wax. Place the egg in dye. Repeat process again, if
desired, dipping the egg in another color of dye. (Note: The lighted candle is to be used
by an adult only.)
Felt-tip markers can be used to decorate dyed or undyed eggs. Small
stickers can also be used on eggs.
Craft items such as sequins, glitter, and ribbons and small pom-poms
can be used with glue to decorate eggs.
Apply lengths of yarns, string, or thread to the eggs with glue,
creating designs, and allow to dry.
Egg creatures can be created by using markers, construction paper,
feathers, ribbon, lace, cotton balls, fabric, and buttons. To make an egg holder, make
small cardboard or construction paper cylinders. A toilet paper or paper towel tube can be
cut to make stands as well.
Save the shells from the eggs to use for eggshell collages. Crumble the
shells and sprinkle over a glue design that has been made on paper or cardboard.