Origins of the Tradition of Decorating and Coloring Easter Eggs

The coloring and decoration of eggs is a custom which has also been practised since quite ancient times in the Orient. Before the popularity of chocolate, natural hen's eggs were decorated by children: in the countryside, they were dyed in red with onion rings, cooked a pale pink colour using radish peels or green using nettle or ivy leaves.  
Picture of an Egg decorated with a coat of arms
Painted Easter egg decorated with a Coat of Arms
Picture by Erich Ferdinand

In the countries of Eastern Europe, orthodox Christians became great specialists in turning eggs into works of art. Hard boiled eggs or uncooked whole eggshells with their insides blown out through a hole were often very ornately decorated.  Further West in Europe, French Patissiers would empty the yolk and white from chicken eggs and fill them with chocolate, then paint the outside of the shell.

From Russia to Greece, orthodox Christians usually paint their eggs in a red colour, whereas in Germany, the dominant color is green. The tradition there is so strong that Holy Thursday (commemorating when Jesus and his disciples had the Last Supper, on the day before Good Friday) is known as Green Thursday.
Photo of a Ukrainian Painted Egg
A Ukrainian Painted Egg
Photo by zephrene

The colors used when painting have the following meanings in some regions:

  • Red symbolizes the sacrificial death of Christ
  • Yellow stands for the desire for illumination and wisdom
  • White is the color of  purity.
  • Green symbolises youth and innocence.
  • Orange indicates  strength, perseverance and ambition

In particular in the slavic parts of Europe the art of egg decoration is still very much alive, ranging from simple batik painting to engraving and etching techniques. These eggs are often arranged with bunches of green birch twigs to create an easter bouquet which may be hung or decorated with other gifts in an easter basket. In the Czech village of Libotenice there is even a gallery which is entirely dedicated to the tradition of painting of Easter eggs by hand, which also allows visitors to try some of the decorative techniques is they wish.

The custom of decorated eggs became the ultimate fine art with the particularly splendid large Faberge Eggs which were made between 1885 and 1917.  

The custom of hiding painted eggs in the garden, to be searched for  by joyful children is maintained in many countries. It is said to symbolize the persecution of the baby Jesus by Herod and the intervention of God to stop Jesus being found.

Interesting and Fun Easter Ideas:
Make a Hand Painted Easter Egg Tree
Easter Decorating Ideas for your Home
Easter Gifts at Piglette:
Solid Chocolate Bunny
Chocolate Covered Fruit
Winnie The Pooh Figurine Easter Gifts
Easter Petits Fours
Egg-shaped Aquamarine Jewelry Pendant Necklace
Chocolate Roses
Easter Chocolates and Truffles
Red Roses
More Easter Bunny Gifts
Chocolate Easter Eggs
Fascinating facts:
History of Easter Eggs from their Origins to the Chocolate Egg
Origins of the Tradition of Decorating and Coloring Easter Eggs
Easter Egg Customs and Traditions around the World

History and Legends of the Basil Plant Mistletoe Traditions and History
The History of Mother's Day The History of Halloween

Wedding Dress History and Meaning of the Bridal Veil History of the Wedding Cake and Wedding March Music
History of Wedding Ring Customs and Engagement Ring Tradition Origin of the The Honeymoon Tradition

Home to discover more interesting facts and Histories, gardening and fractal art plus much more at Piglette.