Tuesday, April 19, 2011

eggs from the old country

Coloring eggs is serious business for many of our believers. Central and Eastern European countries excel at the sort of eggs like the ones pictured above. You can buy plastic sleeves that look like the authentic eggs that wrap around the eggs when you dip them in boiling water. Or boil eggs in natural dye like brown onion peels with cheesecloth keeping leaves and flower petals on the egg to make designs while coloring. We go a bit simpler still and color our eggs red like the one you usually see in icons with Mary Magdalene.

In our old country and the parish here in the states, people share their Pascha (Easter) baskets after the Divine Liturgy. The priest blesses the baskets and then everyone gets down to the business of eating all the goodies that they sacrificed during the Great Fast. We also eat plenty of colored eggs because we play a little game that goes like this: two people face each other, each holding a colored egg. One person says "Christ is Risen," and the other person says "Indeed He is risen" and then the two people tap the tops of their eggs together. The egg that does not break 'wins' and then you turn the eggs around and try again. I've heard that some people get so serious about this game that they feed their chickens extra calcium so that their eggs will win! I'm not sure what the prize is, though...

Tomorrow, I'll write about Pascha baskets...these are not just for the kids...this is one tradition that I think the Roman-rite should copy (actually, I think in Western Slovakia they do this in the Roman-rite)

11 comments:

  1. The eggs are beautiful. My friend has picked me up the tools needed to make my own next year. I can't wait to try my hand at making them. This year we're going with the easy dye kits from the dollar store.

    Paula

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  2. Guess who did a basket with her grandmother when she was a little girl? In a Roman Church?

    *waves* My husband thinks someone was Byzantine, way back when. I have more to say on this, which I'll get around to posting...someday.

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  3. Pasanki eggs are the best! My husband taught me how to do them the first Easter we had together when we were dating and I was in awe (gave him serious brownie points right away :) His mother makes gorgeous ones. I just love this tradition. We didn't make them last year and won't get to this year (little babies, can't find the time or money to purchase more wax) but we will definitely make them for years to come. I will post a pic of our Easter basket next week which will include some of our past Pasanki eggs :) God Bless!

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  4. I have a friend that is from Poland and Roman rite. Last year, a local parish had a blessing of the Pascha baskets which she and her husband were thrilled to find out about. I am looking forward to your post tomorrow because I am curious to know more about this tradition. My friend couldn't really explain it very well to me in English.

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  5. Kimberlie, my grandmother was born here but her parents were from Poland. Maybe it's more of an Eastern European Catholic thing than a Roman vs. Byzantine thing?

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  6. Yes, it is definitely an Eastern European thing, rather than Roman vs. Byzantine. Many Roman parishes with large Polish population bless Easter Baskets.

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  7. So beautiful! Wish I knew how! theres always You Tube...

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  8. as always- go to the blog "like Mother like daughter" search for her post on eggs- she did OSTRICH eggs as beautiful wedding presents! so pretty

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  9. Haha, if they are boys, the "gentle tapping of Easter eggs" is more of a competitive smash and bash. Believe me, I have enough brothers to vouch for this! It is nice, though, because the cracked egg symbolizes Christ's resurrection - Christ is Risen indeed!

    The Greeks, in fact, add to that the tradition of dying the eggs blood red, to symbolize the passion of Christ. They use yellow onion skins (red or purple skins turn the eggs brown rather than red). I have been using the recipe below for years now, with beautiful success. The eggs come out really blood red - not a withering shade of pink. They are made to be broken too - unlike the beautiful artistry of Pysanky. I collect the skins for several months in advance and stuff them into a quart sized tin.

    If you scour the supermarket onion stalls for peels, and try the recipe, there is a step that is rather poorly explained. When you make the dye, you have to find a way to squish all of the onion peels under the water. I use a plate weighted down with my flour tin.

    http://greekfood.about.com/od/greekcookingtips/ht/redeggs.htm

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  10. Oh, and - German Roman Catholics here in Bavaria also bring these sausage, cheese, etc. stuffed baskets to the Easter mass. I am not sure about the Mediterranean Catholics, but it definitely happens here.

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  11. They do that egg-tapping game in the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." They tell the English-speaking John Corbett character that what they are saying is "Happy Easter," but it's clear even to a non-Greek speaking Catholic (or Orthodox)person that what they are actually saying is "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!" So these traditions do make it into pop culture if you pay attention!

    My father-in-law is a permanent deacon, and he always jokes about old ladies bringing their baskets to be blessed who insist on taking the lids off or unwrapping everything, because apparently God's blessing can't penetrate Tupperware!

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