Perhaps nowhere in the world has the tradition of decorating eggs developed into so many unique patterns and techniques as in Central and Eastern Europe. Originating as a pagan ritual, the people in the region once believed that great powers were embodied in the egg. In particular, the egg represented life, fertility, and rebirth. With the acceptance of Christianity, decorating eggs continued to play an important role. Many of the meanings and symbols were adapted with the addition of representing Easter and Christ’s Resurrection. Today, decorating eggs still holds great meaning and is a widely popular custom throughout Central and Eastern Europe.
Ukrainian Easter eggs (pysanky) on display. The word pysanky comes from the verb pysaty, "to write", as the designs are not painted on, but written with molten wax. Some of the most common designs of pysanky can be categorized into geometric patterns, Christian symbols and celestial signs.
Polish Easter eggs (pisanki) on a table. Pisanki are created by drawing on an egg shell covered with a layer of molten wax, or alternately drawing designs with wax on a bare egg. The egg is then submerged into a dye.
German Easter eggs (bemalte ostereier) on display at a fountain. In Germany, trees and vines are decorated with hollowed-out eggs that are dyed and hung with colorful ribbons.
Hungarian Easter eggs (hímestojás) in a basket. Many Hungarian Easter eggs carry the designs of the Hungarian embroidery that are a part of the traditional dress.
Romanian Easter eggs (oua de pasti) in a carton. Although more of a modern style, some Romanian Easter eggs are decorated using colorful beads.
Slovenian Easter eggs (pirhi) in a basket. In Slovenia as well as throughout Central and Eastern Europe, eggs are commonly dyed with a single color using onion peels.
Czech Easter eggs (kraslice) hung from a ribbon. A Czech tradition at Easter is to use ribbons to tie decorated eggs to trees in gardens or attach them to sticks and place them in window boxes or pots containing spring flowers.
Category: Customs & Traditions
Suzanne Urpecz, creator and editor of The Hungarian Girl. Click on my About page for more info.