Growing up, Easter was always a time filled with traditional and cultural symbolism. Each year, we would colour and decorate eggs, in Polish called ‘pisanki,’ and make an Easter basket to be shared for breakfast on Easter Sunday. I look back on my childhood and remember it as a happy time, marking occasions, remembering our Polish heritage and celebrating feasts. We did also have chocolate eggs, so I didn’t miss out, but there was much more to Easter than chocolate.
In many ways, the Easter bunny means very little to me. Yes, he’s cute, as are the chicks, and I’m sure everyone can appreciate that springtime marks new beginnings and that eggs, whether chocolate, coloured or soft boiled symbolise new life. But it’s always hard to know what to pass onto our children and how to do it in a way that it meaningful to them. Do we cling tightly onto the traditions of our parents and grandparents, or skip straight to the Easter Bunny, with Easter bonnets and chocolate eggs hunts in the garden? Or, do we try and pass on some of the things we did growing up and try hard to appreciate everything we were taught and brought up doing?
This year, we are enjoying preparing for Easter as a family, which has included making a traditional Polish Easter basket, as well as colouring eggs and using some very cute little eggs wrappers, featuring chicks and Easter bunnies, hopefully to try and cover the whole spectrum!
Egg dying is really easy and it’s a great pre-Easter activity. At home, we made dyes using onion skins and vinegar, which is a very traditional method of colouring eggs. The Polish tradition of making ‘pisanki’ dates back to the 10th Century, although some say that the Slavic people were decorating eggs much earlier than that. ‘Drapanki’ are made by scratching the surface of the eggs with a sharp tool to reveal the egg white. Traditional ‘pisanki’ are covered with a layer of molten wax or designs can be drawn straight onto the egg with wax.
We coloured our eggs two ways, the first few were boiled in water with onions skins and vinegar (the darker brown eggs) and the second batch were coloured using an egg decorating kit which contained tablets of dye. We used a wax candle to draw designs onto the pre-boiled eggs before dipping them into the dye for about ten minutes to take on the colour. The wrappers were even easier to use, we boiled the eggs, then put the wrappers around them and dropped them into boiling water for 30 seconds – which instantly shrinks the wrapper around the egg. My little boy thought this was great fun, he scribbled all over his eggs with the crayon and then coloured them red and blue. He thought the wrappers turned them into ‘magic eggs.’
- Use duck eggs or pale white eggs to get the brightest colour results.
- Hard boil your eggs before dying, then store in the fridge.
- For two tone eggs (such as the green one) dip the whole egg in dye for a few seconds, then take a shallower cup and place half the egg in the dye leaving the top bit exposed. (Ela’s tip)
- The blue egg was hard boiled, the design was drawn on with a wax crayon and then it was placed into the dye.
- Use your empty egg carton as a drying try.
- To make the eggs shiny, rub them with a tiny bit of olive oil after colouring. (Mama’s tip)
- Wear pastic gloves to avoid getting dye on your hands
All in all, a very fun Easter activity!